582 research outputs found

    Binary pulsars as dark-matter probes

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    During the motion of a binary pulsar around the Galactic center, the pulsar and its companion experience a wind of dark-matter particles that can affect the orbital motion through dynamical friction. We show that this effect produces a characteristic seasonal modulation of the orbit and causes a secular change of the orbital period whose magnitude can be well within the astonishing precision of various binary-pulsar observations. Our analysis is valid for binary systems with orbital period longer than a day. By comparing this effect with pulsar-timing measurements, it is possible to derive model-independent upper bounds on the dark-matter density at different distances DD from the Galactic center. For example, the precision timing of J1713+0747 imposes ŌĀDM‚Č≤105‚ÄČGeV/cm3\rho_{\rm DM}\lesssim 10^5\,{\rm GeV/cm}^3 at D‚Čą7‚ÄČkpcD\approx7\,{\rm kpc}. The detection of a binary pulsar at D‚Č≤10‚ÄČpcD\lesssim 10\,{\rm pc} could provide stringent constraints on dark-matter halo profiles and on growth models of the central black hole. The Square Kilometer Array can improve current bounds by 2 orders of magnitude, potentially constraining the local density of dark matter to unprecedented levels.Comment: 8+3 pages, 7 figures. To appear in Phys. Rev. D; v2: matches published versio

    Advanced Methods in Black-Hole Perturbation Theory

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    Black-hole perturbation theory is a useful tool to investigate issues in astrophysics, high-energy physics, and fundamental problems in gravity. It is often complementary to fully-fledged nonlinear evolutions and instrumental to interpret some results of numerical simulations. Several modern applications require advanced tools to investigate the linear dynamics of generic small perturbations around stationary black holes. Here, we present an overview of these applications and introduce extensions of the standard semianalytical methods to construct and solve the linearized field equations in curved spacetime. Current state-of-the-art techniques are pedagogically explained and exciting open problems are presented.Comment: Lecture notes from the NRHEP spring school held at IST-Lisbon, March 2013. Extra material and notebooks available online at http://blackholes.ist.utl.pt/nrhep2/. To be published by IJMPA (V. Cardoso, L. Gualtieri, C. Herdeiro and U. Sperhake, Eds., 2013); v2: references updated, published versio

    Tests for the existence of horizons through gravitational wave echoes

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    The existence of black holes and of spacetime singularities is a fundamental issue in science. Despite this, observations supporting their existence are scarce, and their interpretation unclear. We overview how strong a case for black holes has been made in the last few decades, and how well observations adjust to this paradigm. Unsurprisingly, we conclude that observational proof for black holes is impossible to come by. However, just like Popper's black swan, alternatives can be ruled out or confirmed to exist with a single observation. These observations are within reach. In the next few years and decades, we will enter the era of precision gravitational-wave physics with more sensitive detectors. Just as accelerators require larger and larger energies to probe smaller and smaller scales, more sensitive gravitational-wave detectors will be probing regions closer and closer to the horizon, potentially reaching Planck scales and beyond. What may be there, lurking?Comment: Published in Nature Astronomy, expanded version with further details available at arXiv:1707.0302

    Analytical template for gravitational-wave echoes: signal characterization and prospects of detection with current and future interferometers

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    Gravitational-wave echoes in the post-merger ringdown phase are under intense scrutiny as probes of near-horizon quantum structures and as signatures of exotic states of matter in ultracompact stars. We present an analytical template that describes the ringdown and the echo signal for nonspinning objects in terms of two physical parameters: the reflectivity and the redshift at the surface of the object. We characterize the properties of the template and adopt it in a preliminary parameter estimation with current (aLIGO) and future (Cosmic Explorer, Einstein Telescope, LISA) gravitational-wave detectors. For fixed signal-to-noise ratio in the post-merger phase, the constraints on the model parameters depend only mildly on the details of the detector sensitivity curve, but depend strongly on the reflectivity. Our analysis suggests that it might be possible to detect or rule out Planckian corrections at the horizon scale for perfectly-reflecting ultracompact objects at 5ŌÉ5\sigma confidence level with Advanced LIGO/Virgo. On the other hand, signal-to-noise ratios in the ringdown phase equal to ‚Čą100\approx 100 (as achievable with future interferometers) might allow us to probe near-horizon quantum structures with reflectivity ‚Č≥30%\gtrsim30\% (‚Č≥85%\gtrsim85\%) at 2ŌÉ2\sigma (3ŌÉ3\sigma) level.Comment: v3: 13+4 pages, 11 figures, 4 appendices; matches the PRD version with a new plot and extended results. v2 (submitted version): 12 pages + 4 appendices; 9 figures. Further discussion and new appendix with template for localized sources at generic position. Template and waveforms available at https://www.darkgra.org/gw-echo-catalogue.htm

    Tidal capture of a primordial black hole by a neutron star: implications for constraints on dark matter

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    In a close encounter with a neutron star, a primordial black hole can get gravitationally captured by depositing a considerable amount of energy into nonradial stellar modes of very high angular number ll. If the neutron-star equation of state is sufficiently stiff, we show that the total energy loss in the point-particle approximation is formally divergent. Various mechanisms -including viscosity, finite-size effects and the elasticity of the crust- can damp high-ll modes and regularize the total energy loss. Within a short time, the black hole is trapped inside the star and disrupts it by rapid accretion. Estimating these effects, we predict that the existence of old neutron stars in regions where the dark-matter density rho_{DM}>10^2 sigma/(km/s) GeV/cm^3 (where sigma is the dark-matter velocity dispersion) limits the abundance of primordial black holes in the mass range 10^{17} g < m_{PBH} < 10^{24} g, which was previously unconstrained. In combination with existing limits, our results suggest that primordial black holes cannot be the dominant dark matter constituent.Comment: v3: Changes in the organization of the paper, extended discussion and new title; results and conclusions unchanged. v4: minor editorial changes, JCAP accepte

    Testing the nature of dark compact objects: a status report

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    Very compact objects probe extreme gravitational fields and may be the key to understand outstanding puzzles in fundamental physics. These include the nature of dark matter, the fate of spacetime singularities, or the loss of unitarity in Hawking evaporation. The standard astrophysical description of collapsing objects tells us that massive, dark and compact objects are black holes. Any observation suggesting otherwise would be an indication of beyond-the-standard-model physics. Null results strengthen and quantify the Kerr black hole paradigm. The advent of gravitational-wave astronomy and precise measurements with very long baseline interferometry allow one to finally probe into such foundational issues. We overview the physics of exotic dark compact objects and their observational status, including the observational evidence for black holes with current and future experiments.Comment: 76 pages + references. Invited review article for Living Reviews in Relativity. v3: Overall improvements and references added, a few typos corrected. Version to appear in LR

    On gravitational-wave echoes from neutron-star binary coalescences

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    A tentative detection of gravitational-wave echoes in the post-merger signal of GW170817 has been recently claimed at 4.2ŌÉ4.2\sigma significance level. It has been speculated that the signal might provide evidence for near-horizon quantum structures in the remnant exotic object. We point out that if the remnant object is an ultracompact neutron star, echoes are expected for objects with radius only slightly smaller than that of an ordinary neutron star. The reported echoes at ~72 Hz are compatible with a toy model of incompressible star with mass approximately M‚ąą(2,3)M‚äôM\in(2,3) M_\odot and radius close to the Buchdahl limit, R~9GM/(4c^2). If confirmed, low-frequency gravitational-wave echoes would be in tension with all current neutron-star models and would have dramatic implications for nuclear physics and gravity.Comment: v3: 4 pages, 2 figures, extended discussion, results unchanged. Version accepted in CQG Letter

    Constraining Primordial Black-Hole Bombs through Spectral Distortions of the Cosmic Microwave Background

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    We consider the imprint of superradiant instabilities of nonevaporating primordial black holes (PBHs) on the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). In the radiation dominated era, PBHs are surrounded by a roughly homogeneous cosmic plasma which endows photons with an effective mass through the plasma frequency. In this setting, spinning PBHs are unstable to a spontaneous spindown through the well-known "black-hole bomb" mechanism. At linear level, the photon density is trapped by the effective photon mass and grows exponentially in time due to superradiance. As the plasma density declines due to cosmic expansion, the associated energy around PBHs is released and dissipated in the CMB. We evaluate the resulting spectral distortions of the CMB in the redshift range 10^3 < z < 2x10^6. Using the existing COBE/FIRAS bounds on CMB spectral distortions, we derive upper limits on the fraction of dark matter that can be associated with spinning PBHs in the mass range 10^{-8}*Msun < M < 0.2*Msin. For maximally-spinning PBHs, our limits are much tighter than those derived from microlensing or other methods. Future data from the proposed PIXIE mission could improve our limits by several orders of magnitude.Comment: 6 pages, 2 figures. Published versio
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