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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 Illinois


NCSA. Last modified 11/7/95.