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Waveforms: The Larger Picture
The three waveforms shown explained in the previous caption show only the very
late stages calculated in 3-D for the collision and merger of two black holes spiralling
towards eachother.The figure presented here shows the anticipated LIGO waveform for all three stages,
evolving from left to right.
- Stage One
- The first waveform would be emitted during the last orbits before the "final plunge".
This part of the waveform can be reliably calculated now.
- Stage Two
- In this stages labelled "coalescence," the black
holes are almost touching, creating very strong distortions of each other. The waveforms
generated are as yet unknown and can only be computed by supercomputers.
Doing so is a major goal of a multicenter "Grand Challenge" project in numerical relativity.
- Stage Three
- The third waveform, labelled "normal mode," shows the final ringdown of the black hole
that results from the merger of the two smaller black holes.
The detection of this entire waveform would constitute a major achievement for LIGO, a landmark
in our understanding and knowledge of how black holes behave when they collide and coalesce.
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Copyright, 1995: Board of Trustees, University of
NCSA. Last modified 11/7/95.