Abstract:
The equations of motion of compact binary systems have been derived in the post-Newtonian (PN) approximation of general relativity. The current level of accuracy is 3.5PN order. The conservative part of the equations of motion (neglecting the radiation reaction damping terms) is deducible from a generalized Lagrangian in harmonic coordinates, or equivalently from an ordinary Hamiltonian in ADM coordinates. As an application we investigate the problem of the dynamical stability of circular binary orbits against gravitational perturbations up to the 3PN order. We find that there is no innermost stable circular orbit or ISCO at the 3PN order for equal masses.

Abstract:
Using equations of motion accurate to the third post-Newtonian (3PN) order (O(v/c)^6 beyond Newtonian gravity), we derive expressions for the total energy E and angular momentum J of the orbits of compact binary systems (black holes or neutron stars) for arbitrary orbital eccentricity. We also incorporate finite-size contributions such as spin-orbit and spin-spin coupling, and rotational and tidal distortions, calculated to the lowest order of approximation, but we exclude the effects of gravitational radiation damping. We describe how these formulae may be used as an accurate diagnostic of the physical content of quasi-equilibrium configurations of compact binary systems of black holes and neutron stars generated using numerical relativity. As an example, we show that quasi-equilibrium configurations of corotating neutron stars recently reported by Miller et al. can be fit by our diagnostic to better than one per cent with a circular orbit and with physically reasonable tidal coefficients.

Abstract:
The $5 - 20 M_\odot$ dark objects in X-ray binary systems and the $10^5 - 10^9 M_\odot$ dark objects in galactic nuclei are currently thought to be the Kerr black holes predicted by General Relativity. However, direct observational evidence for this identification is still elusive, and the only viable approach to confirm the Kerr black hole hypothesis is to explore and rule out any other possibility. Here we investigate the final stages of the accretion process onto generic compact objects. While for Kerr black holes and for more oblate bodies the accreting gas reaches the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO) and plunges into the compact object, we find that for more prolate bodies several scenarios are possible, depending on the spacetime geometry. In particular, we find examples in which the gas reaches the ISCO, but then gets trapped between the ISCO and the compact object. In this situation, accretion onto the compact object is possible only if the gas loses additional angular momentum, forming torus-like structures inside the ISCO.

Abstract:
We make a comparison between results from numerically generated, quasi-equilibrium configurations of compact binary systems of black holes in close orbits, and results from the post-Newtonian approximation. The post-Newtonian results are accurate through third PN order (O(v/c)^6 beyond Newtonian gravity), and include rotational and spin-orbit effects, but are generalized to permit orbits of non-zero eccentricity. Both treatments ignore gravitational radiation reaction. The energy E and angular momentum J of a given configuration are compared between the two methods as a function of the orbital angular frequency \Omega. For small \Omega, corresponding to orbital separations a factor of two larger than that of the innermost stable orbit, we find that, if the orbit is permitted to be slightly eccentric, with e ranging from \approx 0.03 to \approx 0.05, and with the two objects initially located at the orbital apocenter (maximum separation), our PN formulae give much better fits to the numerically generated data than do any circular-orbit PN methods, including various ``effective one-body'' resummation techniques. We speculate that the approximations made in solving the initial value equations of general relativity numerically may introduce a spurious eccentricity into the orbits.

Abstract:
In this paper, we present results obtained from our recent studies on the location of the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO) for binary neutron stars (BNSs) in several levels of post Newtonian (PN) approximations. We reach the following conclusion at present: (1) even in the Newtonian case, there exists the ISCO for binary of sufficiently stiff equation of state (EOS). If the mass and the radius of each star are fixed, the angular velocity at the ISCO $\Omega_{ISCO}$ is larger for softer EOS: (2) when we include the first PN correction, there appear roughly two kinds of effects. One is the effect to the self-gravity of each star of binary and the other is to the gravity acting between two stars. Due to the former one, each star of binary becomes compact and the tidal effect is less effective. As a result, $\Omega_{ISCO}$ tends to be increased. On the other hand, the latter one has the property to destabilize the binary orbit, and $\Omega_{ISCO}$ tends to be decreased. If we take into account both effects, however, the former effect is stronger than the latter one, and $\Omega_{ISCO}$ becomes large with increase of the 1PN correction: (3) the feature mentioned above is more remarkable for softer EOS if the mass and radius are fixed. This is because for softer EOS, each star has the larger central density and is susceptible to the GR correction: (4) there has been no self consistent calculation including all the 2PN effects and only exist studies in which one merely includes the effect of the 2PN gravity acting between two stars. In this case, the effect has the property to destabilize the binary orbit, so that $\Omega_{ISCO}$ is always smaller than that for the Newtonian case. If we include the PN effect of the self-gravity to each star, $\Omega_{ISCO}$ will increase.

Abstract:
Newtonian point mass binaries can be brought into arbitrarily close circular orbits. Neutron stars and black holes, however, are extended, relativistic objects. Both finite size and relativistic effects make very close orbits unstable, so that there exists an innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO). We illustrate the physics of the ISCO in a simple model problem, and review different techniques which have been employed to locate the ISCO in black hole and neutron star binaries. We discuss different assumptions and approximations, and speculate on how differences in the results may be explained and resolved.

Abstract:
This paper derives the total power or energy loss rate generated in the form of gravitational waves by an inspiralling compact binary system to the five halves post-Newtonian (2.5PN) approximation of general relativity. Extending a recently developed gravitational-wave generation formalism valid for arbitrary (slowly-moving) systems, we compute the mass multipole moments of the system and the relevant tails present in the wave zone to 2.5PN order. In the case of two point-masses moving on a quasi-circular orbit, we find that the 2.5PN contribution in the energy loss rate is entirely due to tails. Relying on an energy balance argument we derive the laws of variation of the instantaneous frequency and phase of the binary. The 2.5PN order in the accumulated phase is significantly large, being grossly of the same order of magnitude as the previous 2PN order, but opposite in sign. However finite mass effects at 2.5PN order are small. The results of this paper should be useful when analyzing the data from inspiralling compact binaries in future gravitational-wave detectors like VIRGO and LIGO.

Abstract:
Gravitational waves generated by inspiralling compact binaries are investigated to the second--post-Newtonian (2PN) approximation of general relativity. Using a recently developed 2PN-accurate wave generation formalism, we compute the gravitational waveform and associated energy loss rate from a binary system of point-masses moving on a quasi-circular orbit. The crucial new input is our computation of the 2PN-accurate ``source'' quadrupole moment of the binary. Tails in both the waveform and energy loss rate at infinity are explicitly computed. Gravitational radiation reaction effects on the orbital frequency and phase of the binary are deduced from the energy loss. In the limiting case of a very small mass ratio between the two bodies we recover the results obtained by black hole perturbation methods. We find that finite mass ratio effects are very significant as they increase the 2PN contribution to the phase by up to 52\%. The results of this paper should be of use when deciphering the signals observed by the future LIGO/VIRGO network of gravitational-wave detectors.