results for au:Ciolfi_R in:gr-qc

- Growing evidence connects the progenitor systems of the short-hard subclass of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) to the merger of compact object binaries composed by two neutron stars (NSs) or by a NS and a black hole (BH). The recent observation of the binary NS (BNS) merger event GW170817 associated with GRB 170817A brought a great deal of additional information and provided further support to the above connection, even though the identification of this burst as a canonical short GRB (SGRB) remains uncertain. Decades of observational constraints and theoretical models consolidated the idea of a jet origin for the GRB prompt emission, which can also explain the multiwavelength afterglow radiation observed in most of the events. However, the mechanisms through which a BNS or NS-BH merger remnant would power a collimated outflow are much less constrained. Understanding the properties of the remnant systems and whether they can provide the right conditions for jet production has been a main driver of the great effort devoted to study BNS and NS-BH mergers, and still represents a real challenge from both the physical and the computational point of view. One fundamental open question concerns the nature of the central engine itself. While the leading candidate system is a BH surrounded by a massive accretion disk, the recent observation of plateau-shaped X-ray afterglows in some SGRBs would suggest a longer-lived engine, i.e. a metastable (or even stable) massive NS, which would also exclude NS-BH progenitors. Here we elaborate on this key aspect, considering three different scenarios to explain the SGRB phenomenology based on different hypotheses on the nature of the merger remnant. Then, we discuss the basic properties of GRB 170817A and how this event would fit within the different frameworks of the above scenarios, under the assumption that it was or was not a canonical SGRB.
- Mar 01 2018 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1802.10194v2The detection of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo has enabled novel tests of general relativity, including direct study of the polarization of gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for only two tensor gravitational-wave polarizations, general metric theories can additionally predict two vector and two scalar polarizations. The polarization of gravitational waves is encoded in the spectral shape of the stochastic gravitational-wave background, formed by the superposition of cosmological and individually-unresolved astrophysical sources. Using data recorded by Advanced LIGO during its first observing run, we search for a stochastic background of generically-polarized gravitational waves. We find no evidence for a background of any polarization, and place the first direct bounds on the contributions of vector and scalar polarizations to the stochastic background. Under log-uniform priors for the energy in each polarization, we limit the energy-densities of tensor, vector, and scalar modes at 95% credibility to $\Omega^T_0 < 5.6 \times 10^{-8}$, $\Omega^V_0 < 6.4\times 10^{-8}$, and $\Omega^S_0 < 1.1\times 10^{-7}$ at a reference frequency $f_0 = 25$ Hz.
- Feb 15 2018 gr-qc arXiv:1802.05241v1We report on a new all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 475-2000 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0e-8, +1e-9] Hz/s. Potential signals could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run O1. No gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. For completeness, results from the separately published low frequency search 20-475 Hz are included as well. Our lowest upper limit on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h_0 is 4e-25 near 170 Hz, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of 1.3e-24. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limit obtained is ~1.5e-25.
- The binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817 was the first astrophysical source detected in gravitational waves and multi-wavelength electromagnetic radiation. The almost simultaneous observation of a pulse of gamma-rays proved that BNS mergers are associated with at least some short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). However, the gamma-ray pulse was faint, casting doubts on the association of BNS mergers with the luminous, highly relativistic outflows of canonical short GRBs. Here we show that structured jets with a relativistic, energetic core surrounded by slower and less energetic wings produce afterglow emission that brightens characteristically with time, as recently seen in the afterglow of GW170817. Initially, we only see the relatively slow material moving towards us. As time passes, larger and larger sections of the outflow become visible, increasing the luminosity of the afterglow. The late appearance and increasing brightness of the multi-wavelength afterglow of GW170817 allow us to constrain the geometry of its ejecta and thus reveal the presence of an off-axis jet pointing about 30 degrees away from Earth. Our results confirm a single origin for BNS mergers and short GRBs: GW170817 produced a structured outflow with a highly relativistic core and a canonical short GRB. We did not see the bright burst because it was beamed away from Earth. However, approximately one in 20 mergers detected in gravitational waves will be accompanied by a bright, canonical short GRB.
- Dec 05 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1712.01168v2Cosmic strings are topological defects which can be formed in GUT-scale phase transitions in the early universe. They are also predicted to form in the context of string theory. The main mechanism for a network of Nambu-Goto cosmic strings to lose energy is through the production of loops and the subsequent emission of gravitational waves, thus offering an experimental signature for the existence of cosmic strings. Here we report on the analysis conducted to specifically search for gravitational-wave bursts from cosmic string loops in the data of Advanced LIGO 2015-2016 observing run (O1). No evidence of such signals was found in the data, and as a result we set upper limits on the cosmic string parameters for three recent loop distribution models. In this paper, we initially derive constraints on the string tension $G\mu$ and the intercommutation probability, using not only the burst analysis performed on the O1 data set, but also results from the previously published LIGO stochastic O1 analysis, pulsar timing arrays, cosmic microwave background and Big-Bang nucleosynthesis experiments. We show that these data sets are complementary in that they probe gravitational waves produced by cosmic string loops during very different epochs. Finally, we show that the data sets exclude large parts of the parameter space of the three loop distribution models we consider.
- Nov 16 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1711.05578v1On June 8, 2017 at 02:01:16.49 UTC, a gravitational-wave signal from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes was observed by the two Advanced LIGO detectors with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13. This system is the lightest black hole binary so far observed, with component masses $12^{+7}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ and $7^{+2}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ (90% credible intervals). These lie in the range of measured black hole masses in low-mass X-ray binaries, thus allowing us to compare black holes detected through gravitational waves with electromagnetic observations. The source's luminosity distance is $340^{+140}_{-140}$ Mpc, corresponding to redshift $0.07^{+0.03}_{-0.03}$. We verify that the signal waveform is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.
- Oct 26 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1710.09320v1The first observation of a binary neutron star coalescence by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detectors offers an unprecedented opportunity to study matter under the most extreme conditions. After such a merger, a compact remnant is left over whose nature depends primarily on the masses of the inspiralling objects and on the equation of state of nuclear matter. This could be either a black hole or a neutron star (NS), with the latter being either long-lived or too massive for stability implying delayed collapse to a black hole. Here, we present a search for gravitational waves from the remnant of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 using data from Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. We search for short ($\lesssim1$ s) and intermediate-duration ($\lesssim 500$ s) signals, which includes gravitational-wave emission from a hypermassive NS or supramassive NS, respectively. We find no signal from the post-merger remnant. Our derived strain upper limits are more than an order of magnitude larger than those predicted by most models. For short signals, our best upper limit on the root-sum-square of the gravitational-wave strain emitted from 1--4 kHz is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=2.1\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ at 50% detection efficiency. For intermediate-duration signals, our best upper limit at 50% detection efficiency is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=8.4\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a millisecond magnetar model, and $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=5.9\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a bar-mode model. These results indicate that post-merger emission from a similar event may be detectable when advanced detectors reach design sensitivity or with next-generation detectors.
- Oct 17 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1710.05837v1The LIGO Scientific and Virgo Collaborations have announced the first detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of two neutron stars. The merger rate of binary neutron stars estimated from this event suggests that distant, unresolvable binary neutron stars create a significant astrophysical stochastic gravitational-wave background. The binary neutron star background will add to the background from binary black holes, increasing the amplitude of the total astrophysical background relative to previous expectations. In the Advanced LIGO-Virgo frequency band most sensitive to stochastic backgrounds (near 25 Hz), we predict a total astrophysical background with amplitude $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.8_{-1.3}^{+2.7} \times 10^{-9}$ with $90\%$ confidence, compared with $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.1_{-0.7}^{+1.2} \times 10^{-9}$ from binary black holes alone. Assuming the most probable rate for compact binary mergers, we find that the total background may be detectable with a signal-to-noise-ratio of 3 after 40 months of total observation time, based on the expected timeline for Advanced LIGO and Virgo to reach their design sensitivity.
- Oct 09 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1710.02327v2Spinning neutron stars asymmetric with respect to their rotation axis are potential sources of continuous gravitational waves for ground-based interferometric detectors. In the case of known pulsars a fully coherent search, based on matched filtering, which uses the position and rotational parameters obtained from electromagnetic observations, can be carried out. Matched filtering maximizes the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, but a large sensitivity loss is expected in case of even a very small mismatch between the assumed and the true signal parameters. For this reason, \it narrow-band analyses methods have been developed, allowing a fully coherent search for gravitational waves from known pulsars over a fraction of a hertz and several spin-down values. In this paper we describe a narrow-band search of eleven pulsars using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. Although we have found several initial outliers, further studies show no significant evidence for the presence of a gravitational wave signal. Finally, we have placed upper limits on the signal strain amplitude lower than the spin-down limit for 5 of the 11 targets over the bands searched: in the case of J1813-1749 the spin-down limit has been beaten for the first time. For an additional 3 targets, the median upper limit across the search bands is below the spin-down limit. This is the most sensitive narrow-band search for continuous gravitational waves carried out so far.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1709.09203v1We present results from the first directed search for nontensorial gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for tensorial (plus and cross) modes only, a generic metric theory may, in principle, predict waves with up to six different polarizations. This analysis is sensitive to continuous signals of scalar, vector or tensor polarizations, and does not rely on any specific theory of gravity. After searching data from the first observation run of the advanced LIGO detectors for signals at twice the rotational frequency of 200 known pulsars, we find no evidence of gravitational waves of any polarization. We report the first upper limits for scalar and vector strains, finding values comparable in magnitude to previously-published limits for tensor strain. Our results may be translated into constraints on specific alternative theories of gravity.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1709.09660v3On August 14, 2017 at 10:30:43 UTC, the Advanced Virgo detector and the two Advanced LIGO detectors coherently observed a transient gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar mass black holes, with a false-alarm-rate of $\lesssim$ 1 in 27000 years. The signal was observed with a three-detector network matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 18. The inferred masses of the initial black holes are $30.5_{-3.0}^{+5.7}$ Msun and $25.3_{-4.2}^{+2.8}$ Msun (at the 90% credible level). The luminosity distance of the source is $540_{-210}^{+130}~\mathrm{Mpc}$, corresponding to a redshift of $z=0.11_{-0.04}^{+0.03}$. A network of three detectors improves the sky localization of the source, reducing the area of the 90% credible region from 1160 deg$^2$ using only the two LIGO detectors to 60 deg$^2$ using all three detectors. For the first time, we can test the nature of gravitational wave polarizations from the antenna response of the LIGO-Virgo network, thus enabling a new class of phenomenological tests of gravity.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1707.02667v2We report on an all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 20-475 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0, +0.1]e-8 Hz/s. Such a signal could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run, O1. No periodic gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. The lowest upper limits on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h0 are 4e-25 near 170 Hz. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limits obtained are 1.5e-25. These upper limits refer to all sky locations and the entire range of frequency derivative values. For a population-averaged ensemble of sky locations and stellar orientations, the lowest upper limits obtained for the strain amplitude are 2.5e-25.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1707.02669v2We report results of a deep all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves from isolated neutron stars in data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. This search investigates the low frequency range of Advanced LIGO data, between 20 and 100 Hz, much of which was not explored in initial LIGO. The search was made possible by the computing power provided by the volunteers of the Einstein@Home project. We find no significant signal candidate and set the most stringent upper limits to date on the amplitude of gravitational wave signals from the target population, corresponding to a sensitivity depth of 48.7 [1/$\sqrt{{\textrm{Hz}}}$]. At the frequency of best strain sensitivity, near 100 Hz, we set 90% confidence upper limits of $1.8 \times 10^{-25}$. At the low end of our frequency range, 20 Hz, we achieve upper limits of $3.9 \times 10^{-24}$. At 55 Hz we can exclude sources with ellipticities greater than $10^{-5}$ within 100 pc of Earth with fiducial value of the principal moment of inertia of $10^{38} \textrm{kg m}^2$.
- Jun 13 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1706.03119v3We present the results of a semicoherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the low-mass X-ray binary Scorpius X-1, using data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. The search method uses details of the modelled, parametrized continuous signal to combine coherently data separated by less than a specified coherence time, which can be adjusted to trade off sensitivity against computational cost. A search was conducted over the frequency range from 25 Hz to 2000 Hz, spanning the current observationally-constrained range of the binary orbital parameters. No significant detection candidates were found, and frequency-dependent upper limits were set using a combination of sensitivity estimates and simulated signal injections. The most stringent upper limit was set at 175 Hz, with comparable limits set across the most sensitive frequency range from 100 Hz to 200 Hz. At this frequency, the 95 pct upper limit on signal amplitude h0 is 2.3e-25 marginalized over the unknown inclination angle of the neutron star's spin, and 8.03e-26 assuming the best orientation (which results in circularly polarized gravitational waves). These limits are a factor of 3-4 stronger than those set by other analyses of the same data, and a factor of about 7 stronger than the best upper limits set using initial LIGO data. In the vicinity of 100 Hz, the limits are a factor of between 1.2 and 3.5 above the predictions of the torque balance model, depending on inclination angle, if the most likely inclination angle of 44 degrees is assumed, they are within a factor of 1.7.
- Jun 07 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1706.01812v1We describe the observation of GW170104, a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of a pair of stellar-mass black holes. The signal was measured on January 4, 2017 at 10:11:58.6 UTC by the twin advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory during their second observing run, with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a false alarm rate less than 1 in 70,000 years. The inferred component black hole masses are $31.2^{+8.4}_{-6.0}\,M_\odot$ and $19.4^{+5.3}_{-5.9}\,M_\odot$ (at the 90% credible level). The black hole spins are best constrained through measurement of the effective inspiral spin parameter, a mass-weighted combination of the spin components perpendicular to the orbital plane, $\chi_\mathrm{eff} = -0.12^{+0.21}_{-0.30}.$ This result implies that spin configurations with both component spins positively aligned with the orbital angular momentum are disfavored. The source luminosity distance is $880^{+450}_{-390}~\mathrm{Mpc}$ corresponding to a redshift of $z = 0.18^{+0.08}_{-0.07}$. We constrain the magnitude of modifications to the gravitational-wave dispersion relation and perform null tests of general relativity. Assuming that gravitons are dispersed in vacuum like massive particles, we bound the graviton mass to $m_g \le 7.7 \times 10^{-23}~\mathrm{eV}/c^2$. In all cases, we find that GW170104 is consistent with general relativity.
- Apr 18 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.04628v4During their first observational run, the two Advanced LIGO detectors attained an unprecedented sensitivity, resulting in the first direct detections of gravitational-wave signals and GW151226, produced by stellar-mass binary black hole systems. This paper reports on an all-sky search for gravitational waves (GWs) from merging intermediate mass black hole binaries (IMBHBs). The combined results from two independent search techniques were used in this study: the first employs a matched-filter algorithm that uses a bank of filters covering the GW signal parameter space, while the second is a generic search for GW transients (bursts). No GWs from IMBHBs were detected, therefore, we constrain the rate of several classes of IMBHB mergers. The most stringent limit is obtained for black holes of individual mass $100\,M_\odot$, with spins aligned with the binary orbital angular momentum. For such systems, the merger rate is constrained to be less than $0.93~\mathrm{Gpc^{-3}\,yr}^{-1}$ in comoving units at the $90\%$ confidence level, an improvement of nearly 2 orders of magnitude over previous upper limits.
- Apr 13 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.03719v3Results are presented from a semi-coherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the brightest low-mass X-ray binary, Scorpius X-1, using data collected during the first Advanced LIGO observing run (O1). The search combines a frequency domain matched filter (Bessel-weighted $\mathcal{F}$-statistic) with a hidden Markov model to track wandering of the neutron star spin frequency. No evidence of gravitational waves is found in the frequency range 60-650 Hz. Frequentist 95% confidence strain upper limits, $h_0^{95\%} = 4.0\times10^{-25}$, $8.3\times10^{-25}$, and $3.0\times10^{-25}$ for electromagnetically restricted source orientation, unknown polarization, and circular polarization, respectively, are reported at 106 Hz. They are $\leq 10$ times higher than the theoretical torque-balance limit at 106 Hz.
- Jan 31 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1701.08738v2Merging binary neutron stars (BNSs) represent the ultimate targets for multimessenger astronomy, being among the most promising sources of gravitational waves (GWs), and, at the same time, likely accompanied by a variety of electromagnetic counterparts across the entire spectrum, possibly including short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) and kilonova/macronova transients. Numerical relativity simulations play a central role in the study of these events. In particular, given the importance of magnetic fields, various aspects of this investigation require general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD). So far, most GRMHD simulations focused the attention on BNS mergers leading to the formation of a hypermassive NS, which, in turn, collapses within few tens of ms into a black hole surrounded by an accretion disk. However, recent observations suggest that a significant fraction of these systems could form a long-lived NS remnant, which will either collapse on much longer timescales or remain indefinitely stable. Despite the profound implications for the evolution and the emission properties of the system, a detailed investigation of this alternative evolution channel is still missing. Here, we follow this direction and present a first detailed GRMHD study of BNS mergers forming a long-lived NS. We consider magnetized binaries with different mass ratios and equations of state and analyze the structure of the NS remnants, the rotation profiles, the accretion disks, the evolution and amplification of magnetic fields, and the ejection of matter. Moreover, we discuss the connection with the central engine of SGRBs and provide order-of-magnitude estimates for the kilonova/macronova signal. Finally, we study the GW emission, with particular attention to the post-merger phase.
- Dec 13 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1612.03671v2We present general relativistic numerical simulations of binary neutron star (BNS) mergers with different initial spin configurations. We focus on models with stars of mass 1.4 M_sol each, which employ the equation of state (EOS) by Shen, Horowitz, and Teige, and which result in stable NSs as merger remnants. For comparison, we consider two irrotational equal mass (M=1.35 M_sol) and unequal mass (M=1.29,1.42 M_sol) BNS models using the APR4 EOS, which result in a supramassive merger remnant. We present visualizations of the fluid flow and temperature distribution and find a strong impact of the spin on vortex structure and nonaxisymmetric deformation. We compute the radial mass distribution and the rotation profile in the equatorial plane using recently developed measures independent of spatial gauge, revealing slowly rotating cores that can be well approximated by the cores of spherical stars. We also study the influence of the spin on the inspiral phase and the gravitational wave (GW) signal. Using a newly developed analysis method, we further show that gravitational waveforms from BNS mergers can exhibit one or more phase jumps after merger, which occur together with minima of the strain amplitude. We provide a natural explanation in terms of the remnant's quadrupole moment, and show that cancellation effects due to phase jumps can have a strong impact on the GW power spectrum. Finally, we discuss the impact of the spin on the amount of ejected matter.
- Jul 28 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1607.07875v2We derive the luminosity function and redshift distribution of short Gamma Ray Bursts (SGRBs) using (i) all the available observer-frame constraints (i.e. peak flux, fluence, peak energy and duration distributions) of the large population of Fermi SGRBs and (ii) the rest-frame properties of a complete sample of Swift SGRBs. We show that a steep $\phi(L)\propto L^{-a}$ with a>2.0 is excluded if the full set of constraints is considered. We implement a Monte Carlo Markov Chain method to derive the $\phi(L)$ and $\psi(z)$ functions assuming intrinsic Ep-Liso and Ep-Eiso correlations or independent distributions of intrinsic peak energy, luminosity and duration. To make our results independent from assumptions on the progenitor (NS-NS binary mergers or other channels) and from uncertainties on the star formation history, we assume a parametric form for the redshift distribution of SGRBs. We find that a relatively flat luminosity function with slope ~0.5 below a characteristic break luminosity ~3$\times10^{52}$ erg/s and a redshift distribution of SGRBs peaking at z~1.5-2 satisfy all our constraints. These results hold also if no Ep-Liso and Ep-Eiso correlations are assumed. We estimate that, within ~200 Mpc (i.e. the design aLIGO range for the detection of GW produced by NS-NS merger events), 0.007-0.03 SGRBs yr$^{-1}$ should be detectable as gamma-ray events. Assuming current estimates of NS-NS merger rates and that all NS-NS mergers lead to a SGRB event, we derive a conservative estimate of the average opening angle of SGRBs: $\theta_{jet}$~3-6 deg. Our luminosity function implies an average luminosity L~1.5$\times 10^{52}$ erg/s, nearly two orders of magnitude higher than previous findings, which greatly enhances the chance of observing SGRB "orphan" afterglows. Efforts should go in the direction of finding and identifying such orphan afterglows as counterparts of GW events.
- Jul 11 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1607.02186v2In this work, we study the merger of two neutron stars with a gravitational mass of 1.4 M_sol each, employing the Shen-Horowitz-Teige equation of state. This equation of state is a corner case, allowing the formation of a stable neutron star with the given total baryonic mass of 3.03 M_sol. We investigate in unprecedented detail the structure of the remnant, in particular the mass distribution, the thermal structure, and the rotation profile. We also compute fluid trajectories both inside the remnant and those relevant for the formation of the disk. We find a peanut-shaped fluid flow inside the remnant following a strong m=2 perturbation. Moreover, the flow is locally compressive, causing the appearance of dynamic hot spots. Further, we introduce new diagnostic measures that are easy to implement in numeric simulations and that allow to quantify mass and compactness of merger remnants in a well-defined way. As in previous studies of supra- and hypermassive stars, we find a remnant with a slowly rotating core and an outer envelope rotating at nearly Keplerian velocity. We compute a Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff star model which agrees well with that of the remnant in the core, while the latter possesses extensive outer layers rotating close to Kepler velocity. Finally, we extract the gravitational wave signal and discuss the detectability with modern observatories. This study has implications for the interpretation of gravitational wave detections from the post-merger phase, and is relevant for short gamma-ray burst models.
- Jul 08 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1607.01791v2We present fully GRMHD simulations of the merger of binary neutron star (BNS) systems. We consider BNSs producing a hypermassive neutron star (HMNS) that collapses to a spinning black hole (BH) surrounded by a magnetized accretion disk in a few tens of ms. We investigate whether such systems may launch relativistic jets and power short gamma-ray bursts. We study the effects of different equations of state (EOSs), different mass ratios, and different magnetic field orientations. For all cases, we present a detailed investigation of the matter dynamics and of the magnetic field evolution, with particular attention to its global structure and possible emission of relativistic jets. The main result of this work is that we found the formation of an organized magnetic field structure. This happens independently of EOS, mass ratio, and initial magnetic field orientation. We also show that those models that produce a longer-lived HMNS lead to a stronger magnetic field before collapse to BH. Such larger fields make it possible, for at least one of our models, to resolve the MRI and hence further amplify the magnetic field. However, by the end of our simulations, we do not observe a magnetically dominated funnel and hence neither a relativistic outflow. With respect to the recent simulations of Ruiz et al 2016, we evolve models with lower and more realistic initial magnetic field strengths and, because of computational reasons, we do not evolve the accretion disk for the long timescales that seem to be required in order to see a relativistic outflow. Since all our models produce a similar ordered magnetic field structure, we expect that the results found in Ruiz et al 2016, where they only considered an equal-mass system with an ideal fluid EOS, should be general and, at least from a qualitative point of view, independent from mass-ratio, magnetic field orientation, and EOS.
- Jun 07 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1606.01743v2X-ray flashes (XRFs) are a class of high-energy transients whose nature is still open to question. Similar in many aspects to common gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), their strong X-ray emission is accompanied by very low or absent emission in the gamma-ray band. Despite this key difference, a number of indications have consolidated the idea that XRFs and GRBs share a common origin, including a number of potential XRF/supernova associations and the consistency of some XRFs with the Amati relation for long GRBs. However, the difficulties in explaining XRFs as off-axis or intrinsically weak GRBs still cast doubts on this interpretation. Here we explore the possibility that some XRFs are instead powered by the spindown of a long-lived neutron star (NS) formed in a binary NS (BNS) merger or, possibly, in a core-collapse supernova. Focusing on XRF 020903 and a few other cases observed by HETE-2, we show that their lack of gamma-ray emission, spectral properties, duration and X-ray luminosity find a natural explanation within our hypothesis. Moreover, we point out that the agreement of XRF 020903 with the Amati and Ghirlanda relations for long GRBs is respectively only marginal and problematic. Assuming a BNS merger origin for the long-lived NS, we use XRF observations to estimate a lower limit on the rate of BNS mergers accompanied by a potentially observable XRF signal. Within the reach of the advanced LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors, we find >0.02-0.05 1/yr. Finally, we discuss the implications of a supernova association for the XRF events considered.
- Apr 13 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1604.03445v2We present new results of fully general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of binary neutron star (BNS) mergers performed with the Whisky code. All the models use a piecewise polytropic approximation of the APR4 equation of state for cold matter, together with a 'hybrid' part to incorporate thermal effects during the evolution. We consider both equal and unequal-mass models, with total masses such that either a supramassive NS or a black hole is formed after merger. Each model is evolved with and without a magnetic field initially confined to the stellar interior. We present the different gravitational wave (GW) signals as well as a detailed description of the matter dynamics (magnetic field evolution, ejected mass, post-merger remnant/disk properties). Our simulations provide new insights into BNS mergers, the associated GW emission and the possible connection with the engine of short gamma-ray bursts (both in the 'standard' and in the 'time-reversal' scenarios) and other electromagnetic counterparts.
- Binary neutron star (BNS) mergers are the leading model to explain the phenomenology of short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs), which are among the most luminous explosions in the universe. Recent observations of long-lasting X-ray afterglows of SGRBs challenge standard paradigms and indicate that in a large fraction of events a long-lived neutron star (NS) may be formed rather than a black hole. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these afterglows is necessary in order to address the open questions concerning the nature of SGRB central engines. However, recent theoretical progress has been hampered by the fact that the timescales of interest for the afterglow emission are inaccessible to numerical relativity simulations. Here we present a detailed model to bridge the gap between numerical simulations of the merger process and the relevant timescales for the afterglows, assuming that the merger results in a long-lived NS. This model is formulated in terms of a set of coupled differential equations that follow the evolution of the post-merger system and predict its electromagnetic (EM) emission in a self-consistent way, starting from initial data that can be extracted from BNS merger simulations and taking into account the most relevant radiative processes. Moreover, the model can accomodate the collapse of the remnant NS at any time during the evolution as well as different scenarios for the prompt SGRB emission. A second major reason of interest for BNS mergers is that they are considered the most promising source of gravitational waves (GWs) for detection with the advanced ground-based detector network LIGO/Virgo coming online this year. Multimessenger astronomy with joint EM and GW observations of the merger and post-merger phase can greatly enhance the scientific output of either type of observation. However, the actual benefit depends on ...
- Recent observations indicate that in a large fraction of binary neutron star (BNS) mergers a long-lived neutron star (NS) may be formed rather than a black hole. Unambiguous electromagnetic (EM) signatures of such a scenario would strongly impact our knowledge on how short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) and their afterglow radiation are generated. Furthermore, such EM signals would have profound implications for multimessenger astronomy with joint EM and gravitational-wave (GW) observations of BNS mergers, which will soon become reality with the ground-based advanced LIGO/Virgo GW detector network starting its first science run this year. Here we explore such EM signatures based on the model presented in a companion paper, which provides a self-consistent evolution of the post-merger system and its EM emission starting from an early baryonic wind phase and resulting in a final pulsar wind nebula that is confined by the previously ejected material. Lightcurves and spectra are computed for a wide range of post-merger physical properties and particular attention is paid to the emission in the X-ray band. In the context of SGRB afterglow modeling, we present X-ray lightcurves corresponding to the 'standard' and the recently proposed 'time-reversal' scenario (SGRB prompt emission produced at the time of merger or at the time of collapse of the long-lived NS). The resulting afterglow lightcurve morphologies include, in particular, single and two-plateau features with timescales and luminosities that are in good agreement with the observations by the Swift satellite. Furthermore, we compute the X-ray signal that should precede the SGRB in the time-reversal scenario. If found, such a signal would represent smoking-gun evidence for this scenario. Finally, we find a bright, highly isotropic EM transient signal peaking in the X-ray band ...
- After decades of observations the physical mechanisms that generate short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) still remain unclear. Observational evidence provides support to the idea that SGRBs originate from the merger of compact binaries, consisting of two neutron stars (NSs) or a NS and a black hole (BH). Theoretical models and numerical simulations seem to converge to an explanation in which the central engine of SGRBs is given by a spinning BH surrounded by a hot accretion torus. Such a BH-torus system can be formed in compact binary mergers and is able to launch a relativistic jet, which can then produce the SGRB. This basic scenario, however, has recently been challenged by Swift satellite observations, which have revealed long-lasting X-ray afterglows in association with a large fraction of SGRB events. The long durations of these afterglows (from minutes to several hours) cannot be explained by the $\sim\text{s}$ accretion timescale of the torus onto the BH, and, instead, suggest a long-lived NS as the persistent source of radiation. Yet, if the merger results in a massive NS the conditions to generate a relativistic jet and thus the prompt SGRB emission are hardly met. Here we consider an alternative scenario that can reconcile the two aspects and account for both the prompt and the X-ray afterglow emission. Implications for future observations, multi-messenger astronomy and for constraining NS properties are discussed, as well as potential challenges for the model.
- Recent observations by the Swift satellite have revealed long-lasting ($\sim 10^2-10^5\,\mathrm{s}$), "plateau-like" X-ray afterglows in the vast majority of short gamma-ray bursts events. This has put forward the idea of a long-lived millisecond magnetar central engine being generated in a binary neutron star (BNS) merger and being responsible for the sustained energy injection over these timescales ("magnetar model"). We elaborate here on recent simulations that investigate the early evolution of such a merger remnant in general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamics. These simulations reveal very different conditions than those usually assumed for dipole spin-down emission in the magnetar model. In particular, the surrounding of the newly formed NS is polluted by baryons due to a dense, highly magnetized and isotropic wind from the stellar surface that is induced by magnetic field amplification in the interior of the star. The timescales and luminosities of this wind are compatible with early X-ray afterglows, such as the "extended emission". These isotropic winds are a generic feature of BNS merger remnants and thus represent an attractive alternative to current models of early X-ray afterglows. Further implications to BNS mergers and short gamma-ray bursts are discussed.
- Short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) are among the most luminous explosions in the Universe and their origin still remains uncertain. Observational evidence favors the association with binary neutron star or neutron star-black hole (NS-BH) binary mergers. Leading models relate SGRBs to a relativistic jet launched by the BH-torus system resulting from the merger. However, recent observations have revealed a large fraction of SGRB events accompanied by X-ray afterglows with durations $\sim10^2\!-\!10^5~\mathrm{s}$, suggesting continuous energy injection from a long-lived central engine, which is incompatible with the short ($\lesssim1~\mathrm{s}$) accretion timescale of a BH-torus system. The formation of a supramassive NS, resisting the collapse on much longer spin-down timescales, can explain these afterglow durations, but leaves serious doubts on whether a relativistic jet can be launched at merger. Here we present a novel scenario accommodating both aspects, where the SGRB is produced after the collapse of a supramassive NS. Early differential rotation and subsequent spin-down emission generate an optically thick environment around the NS consisting of a photon-pair nebula and an outer shell of baryon-loaded ejecta. While the jet easily drills through this environment, spin-down radiation diffuses outwards on much longer timescales and accumulates a delay that allows the SGRB to be observed before (part of) the long-lasting X-ray signal. By analyzing diffusion timescales for a wide range of physical parameters, we find delays that can generally reach $\sim10^5~\mathrm{s}$, compatible with observations. The success of this fundamental test makes this "time-reversal" scenario an attractive alternative to current SGRB models.
- The properties of the extremely strong magnetic fields of neutron stars affect in a unique way their evolution and the associated phenomenology. Due to the lack of constraints from direct observations, our understanding of the magnetic field configuration in neutron star interiors depends on the progress in theoretical modelling. Here we discuss the effort in building models of magnetized neutron stars focussing on some of the recent results. In particular, we comment on the instability of purely poloidal and purely toroidal magnetic field configurations and on the evidence in favour of the so-called twisted-torus solutions. We conclude with an outlook on the present status of the field and future directions.
- Mergers of binary neutron stars likely lead to the formation of a hypermassive neutron star (HMNS), which is metastable and eventually collapses to a black hole. This merger scenario is thought to explain the phenomenology of short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs). The very high energies observed in SGRBs have been suggested to stem from neutrino-antineutrino annihilation and/or from very strong magnetic fields created during or after the merger by mechanisms like the magnetorotational instability (MRI). Here, we report on results that show for the first time the development of the MRI in HMNSs in three-dimensional, fully general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations. This instability amplifies magnetic fields exponentially and could be a vital ingredient in solving the SGRB puzzle.
- Magnetic fields represent a crucial aspect of the physics and astrophysics of neutron stars. Despite its great relevance, the internal magnetic field configuration of neutron stars is very poorly constrained by the observations, and understanding its properties is a long-standing theoretical challenge. The investigation on the subject is focused on the search for those magnetic field geometries which are stable on several Alfvèn timescales, thus constituting a viable description of neutron star interiors. Assesing the stability of a given magnetic field geometry is therefore an important part of this research. So far only simple configurations, such as the purely poloidal or purely toroidal ones, have been studied in detail in perturbation theory and, most recently, by means of nonlinear magnetohydrodynamic simulations. Here we review the basic results of the state-of-the-art general relativistic nonlinear studies, discussing the present status of the field and its future directions.
- Besides being among the most promising sources of gravitational waves, merging neutron star binaries also represent a leading scenario to explain the phenomenology of short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs). Recent observations have revealed a large subclass of SGRBs with roughly constant luminosity in their X-ray afterglows, lasting $10\!-\!10^4$ s. These features are generally taken as evidence of a long-lived central engine powered by the magnetic spin-down of a uniformly rotating, magnetized object. We propose a different scenario in which the central engine powering the X-ray emission is a differentially rotating hypermassive neutron star (HMNS) that launches a quasi-isotropic and baryon-loaded wind driven by the magnetic field, which is built-up through differential rotation. Our model is supported by long-term, three-dimensional, general-relativistic, and ideal magnetohydrodynamic simulations, showing that this isotropic emission is a very robust feature. For a given HMNS, the presence of a collimated component depends sensitively on the initial magnetic field geometry, while the stationary electromagnetic luminosity depends only on the magnetic energy initially stored in the system. We show that our model is compatible with the observed timescales and luminosities and express the latter in terms of a simple scaling relation.
- Sep 17 2013 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:1309.3885v2Recently, general relations among the quadrupole moment (Q), the moment of inertia (I), and the tidal deformability (Love number) of a neutron star were shown to exist. They are nearly independent of the nuclear matter equation of state and would be of great aid in extracting parameters from observed gravitational-waves and in testing general relativity. These relations, however, do not account for strong magnetic fields. We consider this problem by studying the effect of a strong magnetic field on slowly rotating relativistic neutron stars and show that, for simple magnetic field configurations that are purely poloidal or purely toroidal, the relation between Q and I is again nearly universal. However, different magnetic field geometries lead to different I-Q relations, and, in the case of a more realistic twisted-torus magnetic field configuration, the relation depends significantly on the equation of state, losing its universality. I-Love-Q relations must thus be used with very great care, since universality is lost for stars with long spin periods, i.e. P > 10 s, and strong magnetic fields, i.e. B > 10^12 G.
- Jun 13 2013 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:1306.2803v2Understanding the properties of the internal magnetic field of neutron stars remains a theoretical challenge. Over the last years, twisted-torus geometries have been considered both in Newtonian and general-relativistic equilibrium models, as they represent a potentially good description of neutron star interiors. All of these works have found an apparent intrinsic limitation to geometries that are poloidal-field-dominated, with a toroidal-to-poloidal energy ratio inside the star that are <10%, unless surface currents are included and magnetic fields are allowed to be discontinuous. This limitation is in stark contrast with the general expectation that much higher toroidal fields should be present in the stellar interior and casts doubt about the stability and hence realism of these configurations. We here discuss how to overcome this limitation by adopting a new prescription for the azimuthal currents that leads to magnetized equilibria where the toroidal-to-total magnetic-field energy ratio can be as high as 90%, thus including geometries that are toroidal-field-dominated. Moreover, our results show that for a fixed exterior magnetic-field strength, a higher toroidal-field energy implies a much higher total magnetic energy stored in the star, with a potentially strong impact on the expected electromagnetic and gravitational-wave emission from highly magnetized neutron stars.
- A differentially rotating hypermassive neutron star (HMNS) is a metastable object which can be formed in the merger of neutron-star binaries. The eventual collapse of the HMNS into a black hole is a key element in generating the physical conditions expected to accompany the launch of a short gamma-ray burst. We investigate the influence of magnetic fields on HMNSs by performing three-dimensional simulations in general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamics. In particular, we provide direct evidence for the occurrence of the magnetorotational instability (MRI) in HMNS interiors. For the first time in simulations of these systems, rapidly-growing and spatially-periodic structures are observed to form with features like those of the channel flows produced by the MRI in other systems. Moreover, the growth time and wavelength of the fastest-growing mode are extracted and compared successfully with analytical predictions. The MRI emerges as an important mechanism to amplify magnetic fields over the lifetime of the HMNS, whose collapse to a black hole is accelerated. The evidence provided here that the MRI can actually develop in HMNSs could have a profound impact on the outcome of the merger of neutron-star binaries and on its connection to short gamma-ray bursts.
- Jun 29 2012 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:1206.6604v2We investigate the instability of purely poloidal magnetic fields in nonrotating neutron stars by means of three-dimensional general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamics simulations, extending the work presented in Ciolfi et al. (2011). Our aim is to draw a clear picture of the dynamics associated with the instability and to study the final configuration reached by the system, thus obtaining indications on possible equilibria in a magnetized neutron star. Furthermore, since the internal rearrangement of magnetic fields is a highly dynamical process, which has been suggested to be behind magnetar giant flares, our simulations can provide a realistic estimate of the electromagnetic and gravitational-wave emission which should accompany the flare event. Our main findings are the following: (i) the initial development of the instability meets all the expectations of perturbative studies in terms of the location of the seed of the instability, the timescale for its growth and the generation of a toroidal component; (ii) in the subsequent nonlinear reorganization of the system, ~90% of magnetic energy is lost in few Alfven timescales mainly through electromagnetic emission, and further decreases on a much longer timescale; (iii) all stellar models tend to achieve a significant amount of magnetic helicity and the equipartition of energy between poloidal and toroidal magnetic fields, and evolve to a new configuration which does not show a subsequent instability on dynamical or Alfven timescales; (iv) the electromagnetic emission matches the duration of the initial burst in luminosity observed in giant flares, giving support to the internal rearrangement scenario; (v) only a small fraction of the energy released during the process is converted into f-mode oscillations and in the consequent gravitational-wave emission, thus resulting in very low chances of detecting this signal with present and..
- The problem of the stability of magnetic fields in stars has a long history and has been investigated in detail in perturbation theory. Here we consider the nonlinear evolution of a non-rotating neutron star with a purely poloidal magnetic field, in general relativity. We find that an instability develops in the region of the closed magnetic field lines and over an Alfven timescale, as predicted by perturbation theory. After the initial unstable growth, our evolutions show that a toroidal magnetic field component is generated, which increases until it is locally comparable in strength with the poloidal one. On longer timescales the system relaxes to a new non-axisymmetric configuration with a reorganization of the stellar structure and large-amplitude oscillations, mostly in the fundamental mode. We discuss the energies involved in the instability and the impact they may have on the phenomenology of magnetar flares and on their detectability through gravitational-wave emission.
- Nov 13 2010 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:1011.2778v1Neutron stars can have, in some phases of their life, extremely strong magnetic fields, up to 10^15-10^16 G. These objects, named magnetars, could be powerful sources of gravitational waves, since their magnetic field could determine large deformations. We discuss the structure of the magnetic field of magnetars, and the deformation induced by this field. Finally, we discuss the perspective of detection of the gravitational waves emitted by these stars.
- Sep 08 2010 astro-ph.CO gr-qc arXiv:1009.1240v2Two classes of high energy sources in our galaxy are believed to host magnetars, neutron stars whose emission results from the dissipation of their magnetic field. The extremely high magnetic field of magnetars distorts their shape, and causes the emission of a conspicuous gravitational waves signal if rotation is fast and takes place around a different axis than the symmetry axis of the magnetic distortion. Based on a numerical model of the cosmic star formation history, we derive the cosmological background of gravitational waves produced by magnetars, when they are very young and fast spinning. We adopt different models for the configuration and strength of the internal magnetic field (which determines the distortion) as well as different values of the external dipole field strength (which governs the spin evolution of magnetars over a wide range of parameters). We find that the expected gravitational wave background differs considerably from one model to another. The strongest signals are generated for magnetars with very intense toroidal internal fields ($\sim 10^{16}$ G range) and external dipole fields of $\sim 10^{14}$, as envisaged in models aimed at explaining the properties of the Dec 2004 giant flare from SGR 1806-20. Such signals should be easily detectable with third generation ground based interferometers such as the Einstein Telescope.
- Mar 11 2010 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:1003.2148v3We construct general relativistic models of stationary, strongly magnetized neutron stars. The magnetic field configuration, obtained by solving the relativistic Grad-Shafranov equation, is a generalization of the twisted torus model recently proposed in the literature; the stellar deformations induced by the magnetic field are computed by solving the perturbed Einstein's equations; stellar matter is modeled using realistic equations of state. We find that in these configurations the poloidal field dominates over the toroidal field and that, if the magnetic field is sufficiently strong during the first phases of the stellar life, it can produce large deformations.
- Mar 04 2009 astro-ph.SR gr-qc arXiv:0903.0556v2We find general relativistic solutions of equilibrium magnetic field configurations in magnetars, extending previous results of Colaiuda et al. (2008). Our method is based on the solution of the relativistic Grad-Shafranov equation, to which Maxwell's equations can be reduced in some limit. We obtain equilibrium solutions with the toroidal magnetic field component confined into a finite region inside the star, and the poloidal component extending to the exterior. These so-called twisted-torus configurations have been found to be the final outcome of dynamical simulations in the framework of Newtonian gravity, and appear to be more stable than other configurations. The solutions include higher order multipoles, which are coupled to the dominant dipolar field. We use arguments of minimal energy to constrain the ratio of the toroidal to the poloidal field.