Abstract:
The recent passage of Jupiter by the quasar QSO J0842+1835 at a separation of 3.7 arcminutes on September 8, 2002, combined with recent advances in interferometric radio timing, has allowed for the first measurement of higher-order post-Newtonian terms in the Shapiro time delay which depend linearly on the velocity of the gravitating body. Claims have been made that these measurements also allow for the measurement of the propagation speed of the gravitational force. This conclusion disagrees with recent calculations done in the parameterized post-Newtonian (PPN) model, which find no dependence of the velocity-dependent terms in the time delay on the speed of gravity to the stated order. Here, to test out these claims and counterclaims, we calculate the time delay in the limit of an instantaneous gravitational force, and find that the velocity-dependent terms are in complete agreement with previous PPN calculations, with no dependence on the speed of gravity. We conclude that the speed of gravity cannot be determined by measuring these terms in the Shapiro time delay, and suggest a reason why other groups mistakenly came to the opposite conclusion.

Abstract:
We review the current status of studies of the coalescence of binary neutron star systems. We begin with a discussion of the formation channels of merging binaries and we discuss the most recent theoretical predictions for merger rates. Next, we turn to the quasi-equilibrium formalisms that are used to study binaries prior to the merger phase and to generate initial data for fully dynamical simulations. The quasi-equilibrium approximation has played a key role in developing our understanding of the physics of binary coalescence and, in particular, of the orbital instability processes that can drive binaries to merger at the end of their lifetimes. We then turn to the numerical techniques used in dynamical simulations, including relativistic formalisms, (magneto-)hydrodynamics, gravitational-wave extraction techniques, and nuclear microphysics treatments. This is followed by a summary of the simulations performed across the field to date, including the most recent results from both fully relativistic and microphysically detailed simulations. Finally, we discuss the likely directions for the field as we transition from the first to the second generation of gravitational-wave interferometers and while supercomputers reach the petascale frontier.

Abstract:
We review the current status of studies of the coalescence of binary neutron star systems. We begin with a discussion of the formation channels of merging binaries and we discuss the most recent theoretical predictions for merger rates. Next, we turn to the quasi-equilibrium formalisms that are used to study binaries prior to the merger phase and to generate initial data for fully dynamical simulations. The quasi-equilibrium approximation has played a key role in developing our understanding of the physics of binary coalescence and, in particular, of the orbital instability processes that can drive binaries to merger at the end of their lifetimes. We then turn to the numerical techniques used in dynamical simulations, including relativistic formalisms, (magneto-)hydrodynamics, gravitational-wave extraction techniques, and nuclear microphysics treatments. This is followed by a summary of the simulations performed across the field to date, including the most recent results from both fully relativistic and microphysically detailed simulations. Finally, we discuss the likely directions for the field as we transition from the first to the second generation of gravitational-wave interferometers and while supercomputers reach the petascale frontier.

Abstract:
Using our new post-Newtonian (PN) smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code, we have studied numerically the mergers of neutron star binaries with irrotational initial configurations. Here we describe a new method for constructing numerically accurate initial conditions for irrotational binary systems with circular orbits in PN gravity. We then compute the 3D hydrodynamic evolution of these systems until the two stars have completely merged, and we determine the corresponding GW signals. We present results for systems with different binary mass ratios, and for neutron stars represented by polytropes with $\Gamma=2$ or $\Gamma=3$. Compared to mergers of corotating binaries, we find that irrotational binary mergers produce similar peak GW luminosities, but they shed almost no mass at all to large distances. The dependence of the GW signal on numerical resolution for calculations performed with N>10^5 SPH particles is extremely weak, and we find excellent agreement between runs utilizing N=10^5 and N=10^6 SPH particles (the largest SPH calculation ever performed to study such irrotational binary mergers). We also compute GW energy spectra based on all calculations reported here and in our previous works. We find that PN effects lead to clearly identifiable features in the GW energy spectrum of binary neutron star mergers, which may yield important information about the nuclear equation of state at extreme densities.

Abstract:
We present the first results from our Post-Newtonian (PN) Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) code, which has been used to study the coalescence of binary neutron star (NS) systems. The Lagrangian particle-based code incorporates consistently all lowest-order (1PN) relativistic effects, as well as gravitational radiation reaction, the lowest-order dissipative term in general relativity. We test our code on sequences of single NS models of varying compactness, and we discuss ways to make PN simulations more relevant to realistic NS models. We also present a PN SPH relaxation procedure for constructing equilibrium models of synchronized binaries, and we use these equilibrium models as initial conditions for our dynamical calculations of binary coalescence. Though unphysical, since tidal synchronization is not expected in NS binaries, these initial conditions allow us to compare our PN work with previous Newtonian results. We compare calculations with and without 1PN effects, for NS with stiff equations of state, modeled as polytropes with $\Gamma=3$. We find that 1PN effects can play a major role in the coalescence, accelerating the final inspiral and causing a significant misalignment in the binary just prior to final merging. In addition, the character of the gravitational wave signal is altered dramatically, showing strong modulation of the exponentially decaying waveform near the end of the merger. We also discuss briefly the implications of our results for models of gamma-ray bursts at cosmological distances.

Abstract:
The final burst of gravitational radiation emitted by coalescing binary neutron stars carries direct information about the neutron star fluid, and, in particular, about the equation of state of nuclear matter at extreme densities. The final merger may also be accompanied by a detectable electromagnetic signal, such as a gamma-ray burst. In this paper, we summarize the results of theoretical work done over the past decade that has led to a detailed understanding of this hydrodynamic merger process for two neutron stars, and we discuss the prospects for the detection and physical interpretation of the gravity wave signals by ground-based interferometers such as LIGO. We also present results from our latest post-Newtonian SPH calculations of binary neutron star coalescence, using up to 10^6 SPH particles to compute with higher spatial resolution than ever before the merger of an initially irrotational system. We discuss the detectability of our calculated gravity wave signals based on power spectra.

Abstract:
Using our new Post-Newtonian SPH (smoothed particle hydrodynamics) code, we study the final coalescence and merging of neutron star (NS) binaries. We vary the stiffness of the equation of state (EOS) as well as the initial binary mass ratio and stellar spins. Results are compared to those of Newtonian calculations, with and without the inclusion of the gravitational radiation reaction. We find a much steeper decrease in the gravity wave peak strain and luminosity with decreasing mass ratio than would be predicted by simple point-mass formulae. For NS with softer EOS (which we model as simple $\Gamma=2$ polytropes) we find a stronger gravity wave emission, with a different morphology than for stiffer EOS (modeled as $\Gamma=3$ polytropes as in our previous work). We also calculate the coalescence of NS binaries with an irrotational initial condition, and find that the gravity wave signal is relatively suppressed compared to the synchronized case, but shows a very significant second peak of emission. Mass shedding is also greatly reduced, and occurs via a different mechanism than in the synchronized case. We discuss the implications of our results for gravity wave astronomy with laser interferometers such as LIGO, and for theoretical models of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) based on NS mergers.

Abstract:
We present the first results from our new general relativistic, Lagrangian hydrodynamics code, which treats gravity in the conformally flat (CF) limit. The evolution of fluid configurations is described using smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH), and the elliptic field equations of the CF formalism are solved using spectral methodsin spherical coordinates. The code was tested on models for which the CF limit is exact, finding good agreement with the classical Oppenheimer-Volkov solution for a relativistic static spherical star as well as the exact semi-analytic solution for a collapsing spherical dust cloud. By computing the evolution of quasi-equilibrium neutron star binary configurations in the absence of gravitational radiation backreaction, we have confirmed that these configurations can remain dynamically stable all the way to the development of a cusp. With an approximate treatment of radiation reaction, we have calculated the complete merger of an irrotational binary configuration from the innermost point on an equilibrium sequence through merger and remnant formation and ringdown, finding good agreement withprevious relativistic calculations. In particular, we find that mass loss is highly suppressed by relativistic effects, but that, for a reasonably stiff neutron star equation of state, the remnant is initially stable against gravitational collapse because of its strong differential rotation. The gravity wave signal derived from our numerical calculation has an energy spectrum which matches extremely well with estimates based solely on quasi-equilibrium results, deviating from the Newtonian power-law form at frequencies below 1 kHz, i.e., within the reach of advanced interferometric detectors.

Abstract:
Coalescing binary neutron stars (NS) are expected to be an important source of gravitational waves (GW) detectable by laser interferometers. We present here a simple method for determining the compactness ratio M/R of NS based on the observed deviation of the GW energy spectrum from point-mass behavior at the end of an inspiral event. Our method is based on the properties of quasi-equilibrium binary NS sequences and does not require the computation of the full GW signal h(t). Combined with the measurement of the NS masses from the GW signal during inspiral, the determination of M/R will allow very strong constraints to be placed on the equation of state of nuclear matter at high densities.

Abstract:
Numerical calculations of merging black hole binaries indicate that asymmetric emission of gravitational radiation can kick the merged black hole at up to thousands of km/s, and a number of systems have been observed recently whose properties are consistent with an active galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole moving with substantial velocity with respect to its broader accretion disk. We study here the effect of an impulsive kick delivered to a black hole on the dynamical evolution of its accretion disk using a smoothed particle hydrodynamics code, focusing attention on the role played by the kick angle with respect to the orbital angular momentum vector of the pre-kicked disk. We find that for more vertical kicks, for which the angle between the kick and the normal vector to the disk $\theta\lesssim 30^\circ$, a gap remains present in the inner disk, in accordance with the prediction from an analytic collisionless Keplerian disk model, while for more oblique kicks with $\theta\gtrsim 45^\circ$, matter rapidly accretes toward the black hole. There is a systematic trend for higher potential luminosities for more oblique kick angles for a given black hole mass, disk mass and kick velocity, and we find large amplitude oscillations in time in the case of a kick oriented $60^\circ$ from the vertical.