AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 200 Gravity: Lenses, Dark Matter and Waves
Oral, Thursday, 2:00-3:30pm, January 12, 2006, Ballroom/Salon 2

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[200.07] Gravitational Rocket from the Merging Massive Black Hole Binaries


Coalescing massive black hole binaries are expected to be among the most fascinating gravitational wave sources, observable by the NASA/ESA LISA detector. Not only will the merger events reveal the rich phenomenology of extremely strong and dynamical gravity deep inside the potential wells at the centers of galaxies (thus providing an excellent testing ground for general relativity), it will also make important contributions to the astrophysics of massive black hole evolutions.

Typical black hole mergers involve asymmetric radiation of gravitational waves and lose linear momentum as well as energy and angular momentum. As a result, the merger remnant receives a kick from the GW emission: a gravitational rocket effect. High kick velocities (higher than the escape velocites of the host structure) would have a strong impact on our understanding of how massive black holes have evolved over time and, in particular, on the estimates of the merger rate for LISA.

The main difficulties in calculations of the kick velocities has been in the last moments of the merger where the full theory of general relativity must be employed to accurately model the black hole dynamics. I describe a recent calculation of the kick velocities from numerical relativity simulations of the merging black hole binaries.

Support from NASA ATP#02-0043-0056 is greatly appreciated.

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