Rochester Institute of Technology

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Electromagnetic Chirps from Neutron Star–Black Hole Mergers
By Jeremy D. Schnittman, Tito Dal Canton, Jordan Camp, David Tsang, Bernard J. Kelly
Published in The Astrophysical Journal 853, 123 (Tuesday, January 30, 2018)

Abstract

We calculate the electromagnetic signal of a gamma-ray flare coming from the surface of a neutron star shortly before merger with a black hole companion. Using a new version of the Monte Carlo radiation transport code Pandurata that incorporates dynamic spacetimes, we integrate photon geodesics from the neutron star surface until they reach a distant observer or are captured by the black hole. The gamma-ray light curve is modulated by a number of relativistic effects, including Doppler beaming and gravitational lensing. Because the photons originate from the inspiraling neutron star, the light curve closely resembles the corresponding gravitational waveform: a chirp signal characterized by a steadily increasing frequency and amplitude. We propose to search for these electromagnetic chirps using matched filtering algorithms similar to those used in LIGO data analysis.