Gravitational waveforms with higher modes from merging black holes
The first higher-multipole model of spinning and coalescing black-hole binaries improves accuracy of waveforms and measurement of astrophysical parameters
April 19, 2018
Gravitational-wave observations of binary black holes currently rely on theoretical models that predict the dominant multipoles (l=2, |m|=2) of the radiation during inspiral, merger, and ringdown. We introduce a simple method to include the subdominant multipoles to binary black hole gravitational waveforms, given a frequency-domain model for the dominant multipoles. The amplitude and phase of the original model are appropriately stretched and rescaled using post-Newtonian results (for the inspiral), perturbation theory (for the ringdown), and a smooth transition between the two. No additional tuning to numerical-relativity simulations is required. We apply a variant of this method to the nonprecessing PhenomD model. The result, PhenomHM, constitutes the first higher-multipole model of spinning and coalescing black-hole binaries, and currently includes the (l,|m|)=(2,2),(3,3),(4,4),(2,1),(3,2),(4,3) radiative moments. Comparisons with numerical-relativity waveforms demonstrate that PhenomHM is more accurate than dominant-multipole-only models for all binary configurations, and typically improves the measurement of binary properties.