Eccentric black hole-neutron star mergers: Effects of black hole spin and equation of state

William E. East, Frans Pretorius, Branson C. Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


There is a high level of interest in black hole-neutron star binaries, not only because their mergers may be detected by gravitational wave observatories in the coming years, but also because of the possibility that they could explain a class of short duration gamma-ray bursts. We study black hole-neutron star mergers that occur with high eccentricity as may arise from dynamical capture in dense stellar regions such as nuclear or globular clusters. We perform general relativistic simulations of binaries with a range of impact parameters, three different initial black hole spins (zero, aligned and antialigned with the orbital angular momentum), and neutron stars with three different equations of state. We find a rich diversity across these parameters in the resulting gravitational wave signals and matter dynamics, which should also be reflected in the consequent electromagnetic emission. Before tidal disruption, the gravitational wave emission is significantly larger than perturbative predictions suggest for periapsis distances close to effective innermost stable separations, exhibiting features reflecting the zoom-whirl dynamics of the orbit there. Guided by the simulations, we develop a simple model for the change in orbital parameters of the binary during close-encounters. Depending upon the initial parameters of the system, we find that mass transfer during nonmerging close-encounters can range from essentially zero to a sizable fraction of the initial neutron star mass. The same holds for the amount of material outside the black hole post-merger, and in some cases roughly half of this material is estimated to be unbound. We also see that nonmerging close-encounters generically excite large oscillations in the neutron star that are qualitatively consistent with f-modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124009
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 5 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Eccentric black hole-neutron star mergers: Effects of black hole spin and equation of state'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this