The gravitational-wave memory effect


The nonlinear memory effect is a slowly-growing, non-oscillatory contribution to the gravitational-wave amplitude. It originates from gravitational waves that are sourced by the previously emitted waves. In an ideal gravitational-wave interferometer a gravitational-wave with memory causes a permanent displacement of the test masses that persists after the wave has passed. Surprisingly, the nonlinear memory affects the signal amplitude starting at leading (Newtonian-quadrupole) order. Despite this fact, the nonlinear memory is not easily extracted from current numerical relativity simulations. After reviewing the linear and nonlinear memory I summarize some recent work, including: (1) computations of the memory contribution to the inspiral waveform amplitude (thus completing the waveform to third post-Newtonian order); (2) the first calculations of the nonlinear memory that include all phases of binary black hole coalescence (inspiral, merger, ringdown); and (3) realistic estimates of the detectability of the memory with LISA.Comment: 11 pages, 2 figures; proceedings of the 8th Amaldi Conference on Gravitational Waves (New York, June 2009); accepted for publication in special issue of Classical and Quantum Gravit

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