School of Astroparticle Physics
May 27th - June 1st, 2013
OHP, Saint Michel l'Observatoire

Gravitational Waves

Compact binaries as sources of gravitational waves

  Laboratoire de l'univers et de ses théories (LUTH)

I will review the different populations of compact binaries that one expects to observe with terrestrial interferometric detectors or a future dedicated space mission.
  1. Generalities on compact binaries
  2. Stellar mass binary systems
  3. Supermassive black holes binaries
  4. Extreme mass ratio systems.


A binary system composed of two compact objects, neutron stars or black holes (and also white dwarfs) is the typical good emitter of gravitational waves. This is why those systems constitute the main target for the interferometric wave observatories. If a direct detection would be an important first result, the existence of the waves themselves is no longer to be proven since the discovery of the binary pulsar of Hulse and Taylor. The idea is more to use the waves as a new way of investigating the properties of the sources.

I will review the three main populations of compact binaries that are the stellar mass ones, the supermassive black holes binaries and the extreme mass ratio systems. For each of those cases, I will detail the perspectives for detection, in terms of the expected signals and detection rates. I will also show what can be expected in terms of the physics of the sources. Let us mention for instance the constraints on the equation of state of the neutron stars for the stellar binaries, some indications on galaxy formation for the supermassive ones or some tests of general relativity in the case of the extreme mass ratio systems.

    • "Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology with Gravitational Waves", B.S. Sathyaprakash et Bernard F. Schutz,, Living Rev. Relativity 12,  (2009),  2.
    • "Gravitational waves from merging compact binaries", S.A. Hughes, Ann. Rev. Astro. Astrophys. 47, 107 (2009). arxiv:0903.4877
    • "Physics of relativistic objects in compact binaries: from birth to coalescence" M. Colpi, P. Casella, V. Gorini, U. Morschella et A. Possenti, Springer-Verlag (2008)


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