Emanuele Berti - Washington University, St. Louis

Emanuele Berti
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Emanuele Berti
Washington University, St. Louis
St. Louis
United States

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General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (49)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (39)
High Energy Physics - Theory (24)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (14)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (5)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (3)
Mathematics - Mathematical Physics (1)
Mathematical Physics (1)
Physics - Popular Physics (1)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)
Nuclear Theory (1)

Publications Authored By Emanuele Berti

One of the key astrophysical sources for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) are the inspirals of stellar-origin compact objects into massive black holes in the centres of galaxies. These extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) have great potential for astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics. In this paper we describe the likely numbers and properties of EMRI events that LISA will observe. Read More

The space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be able to observe the gravitational-wave signals from systems comprised of a massive black hole and a stellar-mass compact object. These systems are known as extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) and are expected to complete $\sim 10^4-10^5$ cycles in band, thus allowing exquisite measurements of their parameters. In this work, we attempt to quantify the astrophysical uncertainties affecting the predictions for the number of EMRIs detectable by LISA, and find that competing astrophysical assumptions produce a variance of about three orders of magnitude in the expected intrinsic EMRI rate. Read More

Advanced LIGO detectors at Hanford and Livingston made two confirmed and one marginal detection of binary black holes during their first observing run. The first event, GW150914, was from the merger of two black holes much heavier that those whose masses have been estimated so far, indicating a formation scenario that might differ from "ordinary" stellar evolution. One possibility is that these heavy black holes resulted from a previous merger. Read More

Following the selection of The Gravitational Universe by ESA, and the successful flight of LISA Pathfinder, the LISA Consortium now proposes a 4 year mission in response to ESA's call for missions for L3. The observatory will be based on three arms with six active laser links, between three identical spacecraft in a triangular formation separated by 2.5 million km. Read More

A space-based interferometer such as eLISA could observe few to few thousands progenitors of black hole binaries (BHBs) similar to those recently detected by Advanced LIGO. Gravitational radiation circularizes the orbit during inspiral, but some BHBs retain a measurable eccentricity at the low frequencies where eLISA is most sensitive. The eccentricity of a BHB carries precious information about its formation channel: BHBs formed in the field, in globular clusters, or close to a massive black hole (MBH) have distinct eccentricity distributions in the eLISA band. Read More

The bulk properties of spherically symmetric stars in general relativity can be obtained by integrating the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff (TOV) equations. In previous work we developed a "post-TOV" formalism - inspired by parametrized post-Newtonian theory - which allows us to classify in a parametrized, phenomenological form all possible perturbative deviations from the structure of compact stars in general relativity that may be induced by modified gravity at second post-Newtonian order. In this paper we extend the formalism to deal with the stellar exterior, and we compute several potential astrophysical observables within the post-TOV formalism: the surface redshift $z_s$, the apparent radius $R_{\rm app}$, the Eddington luminosity at infinity $L_{\rm E}^\infty$ and the orbital frequencies. Read More

We estimate the potential of present and future interferometric gravitational-wave detectors to test the Kerr nature of black holes through "gravitational spectroscopy," i.e. the measurement of multiple quasinormal mode frequencies from the remnant of a black hole merger. Read More

Up to hundreds of black hole binaries individually resolvable by eLISA will coalesce in the Advanced LIGO/Virgo band within ten years, allowing for multi-band gravitational wave observations. Binaries formed via dynamical interactions in dense star clusters are expected to have eccentricities $e_0\sim 10^{-3}$-$10^{-1}$ at the frequencies $f_0=10^{-2}$ Hz where eLISA is most sensitive, while binaries formed in the field should have negligible eccentricity in both frequency bands. We estimate that eLISA should always be able to detect a nonzero $e_0$ whenever $e_0\gtrsim 10^{-2}$; if $e_0\sim 10^{-3}$, eLISA should detect nonzero eccentricity for a fraction $\sim 90\%$ ($\sim 25\%$) of binaries when the observation time is $T_{\rm obs}=5$ ($2$) years, respectively. Read More

We review recent progress in the application of numerical relativity techniques to astrophysics and high-energy physics. We focus on some developments that took place within the "Numerical Relativity and High Energy Physics" network, a Marie Curie IRSES action that we coordinated, namely: spin evolution in black hole binaries, high-energy black hole collisions, compact object solutions in scalar-tensor gravity, superradiant instabilities and hairy black hole solutions in Einstein's gravity coupled to fundamental fields, and the possibility to gain insight into these phenomena using analog gravity models. Read More

Horndeski's theory of gravity is the most general scalar-tensor theory with a single scalar whose equations of motion contain at most second-order derivatives. A subsector of Horndeski's theory known as "Fab Four" gravity allows for dynamical self-tuning of the quantum vacuum energy, and therefore it has received particular attention in cosmology as a possible alternative to the $\Lambda$CDM model. Here we study compact stars in Fab Four gravity, which includes as special cases general relativity ("George"), Einstein-dilaton-Gauss-Bonnet gravity ("Ringo"), theories with a nonminimal coupling with the Einstein tensor ("John") and theories involving the double-dual of the Riemann tensor ("Paul"). Read More

Horndeski gravity holds a special position as the most general extension of Einstein's theory of general relativity with a single scalar degree of freedom and second-order field equations. Because of these features, Horndeski gravity is an attractive phenomenological playground to investigate the consequences of modifications of general relativity in cosmology and astrophysics. We present a review of the progress made so far in the study of compact objects (black holes and neutron stars) within Horndeski gravity. Read More

Gravitational waves emitted by the merger of two black holes have been detected, setting the course for a new era of observational astrophysics. Read More

The lowest neutron star masses currently measured are in the range $1.0-1.1~M_\odot$, but these measurement have either large uncertainties or refer to isolated neutron stars. Read More

We continue our series of studies of high-energy collisions of black holes investigating unequal-mass, boosted head-on collisions in four dimensions. We show that the fraction of the center-of-mass energy radiated as gravitational waves becomes independent of mass ratio and approximately equal to $13\%$ at large energies. We support this conclusion with calculations using black hole perturbation theory and Smarr's zero-frequency limit approximation. Read More

We compare the science capabilities of different eLISA mission designs, including four-link (two-arm) and six-link (three-arm) configurations with different arm lengths, low-frequency noise sensitivities and mission durations. For each of these configurations we consider a few representative massive black hole formation scenarios. These scenarios are chosen to explore two physical mechanisms that greatly affect eLISA rates, namely (i) black hole seeding, and (ii) the delays between the merger of two galaxies and the merger of the black holes hosted by those galaxies. Read More

In a study of the quasinormal mode frequencies of nearly extremal black holes, we pointed out a bifurcation of the mode spectrum into modes with finite decay and modes with vanishing decay in the extremal limit. We provided analytic and semi-analytic results identifying which families of modes bifurcated, and when modes with finite decay rates exist when approaching the extremal limit. In a recent note (arXiv:1510. Read More

We compare evolutionary predictions of double compact object merger rate densities with initial and forthcoming LIGO/Virgo upper limits. We find that: (i) Due to the cosmological reach of advanced detectors, current conversion methods of population synthesis predictions into merger rate densities are insufficient. (ii) Our optimistic models are a factor of 18 below the initial LIGO/Virgo upper limits for BH-BH systems, indicating that a modest increase in observational sensitivity (by a factor of 2. Read More

Tidal disruption has a dramatic impact on the outcome of neutron star-black hole mergers. The phenomenology of these systems can be divided in three classes: nondisruptive, mildly disruptive or disruptive. The cutoff frequency of the gravitational radiation produced during the merger (which is potentially measurable by interferometric detectors) is very different in each regime, and when the merger is disuptive it carries information on the neutron star equation of state. Read More

The gravitational radiation emitted during the merger of a black hole with a neutron star is rather similar to the radiation from the merger of two black holes when the neutron star is not tidally disrupted. When tidal disruption occurs, gravitational waveforms can be broadly classified in two groups, depending on the spatial extent of the disrupted material. Extending previous work by some of us, here we present a phenomenological model for the gravitational waveform amplitude in the frequency domain encompassing the three possible outcomes of the merger: no tidal disruption, "mild" and "strong" tidal disruption. Read More

We study black hole solutions at first order in the Hartle-Thorne slow-rotation approximation in Horndeski gravity theories. We derive the equations of motion including also cases where the scalar depends linearly on time. In the Hartle-Thorne formalism, all first-order rotational corrections are described by a single frame-dragging function. Read More

Affiliations: 1Dipartimento di Fisica E. Fermi, Università di Pisa, Italy, 2Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA, 3Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, 4Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Mississippi, USA, 5Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, USA, 6Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, 7Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Gravitational waves from coalescing binary black holes encode the evolution of their spins prior to merger. In the post-Newtonian regime and on the precession timescale, this evolution has one of three morphologies, with the spins either librating around one of two fixed points ("resonances") or circulating freely. In this work we perform full parameter estimation on resonant binaries with fixed masses and spin magnitudes, changing three parameters: a conserved "projected effective spin" $\xi$ and resonant family $\Delta\Phi=0,\pi$ (which uniquely label the source), the inclination $\theta_{JN}$ of the binary's total angular momentum with respect to the line of sight (which determines the strength of precessional effects in the waveform), and the signal amplitude. Read More

Binary black holes on quasicircular orbits with spins aligned with their orbital angular momentum have been testbeds for analytic and numerical relativity for decades, not least because symmetry ensures that such configurations are equilibrium solutions to the spin-precession equations. In this work, we show that these solutions can be unstable when the spin of the higher-mass black hole is aligned with the orbital angular momentum and the spin of the lower-mass black hole is anti-aligned. Spins in these configurations are unstable to precession to large misalignment when the binary separation $r$ is between the values $r_{\rm ud\pm}= (\sqrt{\chi_1} \pm \sqrt{q \chi_2})^4 (1-q)^{-2} M$, where $M$ is the total mass, $q \equiv m_2/m_1$ is the mass ratio, and $\chi_1$ ($\chi_2$) is the dimensionless spin of the more (less) massive black hole. Read More

The dynamics of precessing binary black holes (BBHs) in the post-Newtonian regime has a strong timescale hierarchy: the orbital timescale is very short compared to the spin-precession timescale which, in turn, is much shorter than the radiation-reaction timescale on which the orbit is shrinking due to gravitational-wave emission. We exploit this timescale hierarchy to develop a multi-scale analysis of BBH dynamics elaborating on the analysis of Kesden et al. (2015). Read More

Gravitational theories with multiple scalar fields coupled to the metric and each other --- a natural extension of the well studied single-scalar-tensor theories --- are interesting phenomenological frameworks to describe deviations from general relativity in the strong-field regime. In these theories, the $N$-tuple of scalar fields takes values in a coordinate patch of an $N$-dimensional Riemannian target-space manifold whose properties are poorly constrained by weak-field observations. Here we introduce for simplicity a non-trivial model with two scalar fields and a maximally symmetric target-space manifold. Read More

Besides their astrophysical interest, compact stars also provide an arena for understanding the properties of theories of gravity that differ from Einstein's general relativity. Numerous studies have shown that different modified theories of gravity can modify the bulk properties (such as mass and radius) of neutron stars for given assumptions on the microphysics. What is not usually stressed though is the strong degeneracy in the predictions of these theories for the stellar mass and radius. Read More

One century after its formulation, Einstein's general relativity has made remarkable predictions and turned out to be compatible with all experimental tests. Most of these tests probe the theory in the weak-field regime, and there are theoretical and experimental reasons to believe that general relativity should be modified when gravitational fields are strong and spacetime curvature is large. The best astrophysical laboratories to probe strong-field gravity are black holes and neutron stars, whether isolated or in binary systems. Read More

Some models (such as the Skyrme model, a low-energy effective field theory for QCD) suggest that the high-density matter prevailing in neutron star interiors may be significantly anisotropic. Anisotropy is known to affect the bulk properties of nonrotating neutron stars in General Relativity. In this paper we study the effects of anisotropy on slowly rotating stars in General Relativity. Read More

We derive an effective potential for binary black-hole (BBH) spin precession at second post-Newtonian order. This effective potential allows us to solve the orbit-averaged spin-precession equations analytically for arbitrary mass ratios and spins. These solutions are quasiperiodic functions of time: after a fixed period the BBH spins return to their initial relative orientations and jointly precess about the total angular momentum by a fixed angle. Read More

Soon after the discovery of the Kerr metric, Penrose realized that superradiance can be exploited to extract energy from black holes. The original idea (involving the breakup of a single particle) yields only modest energy gains. A variant of the Penrose process consists of particle collisions in the ergoregion. Read More

These notes were prepared for a lecture on black holes delivered at the DPG Physics School "General Relativity @ 99" (Physikzentrum Bad Honnef, Germany, September 2014). The common thread of the lecture is the relation between geodesic stability and black-hole perturbations in the geometric optics limit. Chapter 1 establishes notation and discusses a common misconception on Michell's "Newtonian black holes". Read More

The evolving Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) will revolutionize our understanding of the formation and evolution of massive black holes along cosmic history by probing massive black hole binaries in the $10^3-10^7$ solar mass range out to redshift $z\gtrsim 10$. High signal-to-noise ratio detections of $\sim 10-100$ binary coalescences per year will allow accurate measurements of the parameters of individual binaries (such as their masses, spins and luminosity distance), and a deep understanding of the underlying cosmic massive black hole parent population. This wealth of unprecedented information can lead to breakthroughs in many areas of physics, including astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics. Read More

We study torsional oscillations of neutron stars in the scalar-tensor theory of gravity using the relativistic Cowling approximation. We compute unperturbed neutron star models adopting realistic equations of state for the neutron star's core and crust. For scalar-tensor theories that allow for spontaneous scalarization, the crust thickness can be significantly smaller than in general relativity. Read More

The angular dependence of the gravitational radiation emitted in compact binary mergers and gravitational collapse is usually separated using spin-weighted spherical harmonics ${}_sY_{\ell m}$ of spin weight $s$, that reduce to the ordinary spherical harmonics $Y_{\ell m}$ when $s=0$. Teukolsky first showed that the perturbations of the Kerr black hole that may be produced as a result of these events are separable in terms of a different set of angular functions: the spin-weighted spheroidal harmonics ${}_sS_{\ell m n}$, where $n$ denotes the "overtone index" of the corresponding Kerr quasinormal mode frequency $\omega_{\ell m n}$. In this paper we compute the complex-valued scalar products of the ${}_sS_{\ell m n}$'s with the ${}_sY_{\ell m}$'s ("spherical-spheroidal mixing coefficients") and with themselves ("spheroidal-spheroidal mixing coefficients") as functions of the dimensionless Kerr parameter $j$. Read More

We construct models of slowly rotating, perfect-fluid neutron stars by extending the classical Hartle-Thorne formalism to generic scalar-tensor theories of gravity. Working at second order in the dimensionless angular momentum, we compute the mass M, radius R, scalar charge q, moment of inertia I and spin-induced quadrupole moment Q, as well as the tidal and rotational Love numbers. Our formalism applies to generic scalar-tensor theories, but we focus in particular on theories that allow for spontaneous scalarization. Read More

If binary black holes form following the successive core collapses of sufficiently massive binary stars, precessional dynamics may align their spins $\mathbf S_1$ and $\mathbf S_2$ and the orbital angular momentum $\mathbf L$ into a plane in which they jointly precess about the total angular momentum $\mathbf J$. These spin orientations are known as spin-orbit resonances since $\mathbf S_1$, $\mathbf S_2$, and $\mathbf L$ all precess at the same frequency to maintain their planar configuration. Two families of such spin-orbit resonances exist, alike in dignity but differentiated by whether the components of the two spins in the orbital plane are either aligned or antialigned. Read More

The development of advanced gravitational wave (GW) observatories, such as Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo, provides impetus to refine theoretical predictions for what these instruments might detect. In particular, with the range increasing by an order of magnitude, the search for GW sources is extending beyond the "local" Universe and out to cosmological distances. Double compact objects (neutron star-neutron star (NS-NS), black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) and black hole-black hole (BH-BH) systems) are considered to be the most promising gravitational wave sources. Read More

We provide an in-depth investigation of quasinormal-mode oscillations of Kerr black holes with nearly extremal angular momenta. We first discuss in greater detail the two distinct types of quasinormal mode frequencies presented in a recent paper (arXiv:1212.3271). Read More

In Einstein-Maxwell theory, according to classic uniqueness theorems, the most general stationary black-hole solution is the axisymmetric Kerr-Newman metric, which is defined by three parameters: mass, spin and electric charge. The radial and angular dependence of gravitational and electromagnetic perturbations in the Kerr-Newman geometry do not seem to be separable. In this paper we circumvent this problem by studying scalar, electromagnetic and gravitational perturbations of Kerr-Newman black holes in the slow-rotation limit. Read More

Black hole-neutron star binary mergers display a much richer phenomenology than black hole-black hole mergers, even in the relatively simple case - considered in this paper - in which both the black hole and the neutron star are nonspinning. When the neutron star is tidally disrupted, the gravitational wave emission is radically different from the black hole-black hole case and it can be broadly classified in two groups, depending on the spatial extent of the disrupted material. We present a phenomenological model for the gravitational waveform amplitude in the frequency domain that encompasses the three possible outcomes of the merger: no tidal disruption, "mild", and "strong" tidal disruption. Read More

Using stellar structure calculations in the Hartle-Thorne approximation, we derive analytic expressions connecting the ellipticity of the stellar surface to the compactness, the spin angular momentum, and the quadrupole moment of the spacetime. We also obtain empirical relations between the compactness, the spin angular momentum, and the spacetime quadrupole. Our formulae reproduce the results of numerical calculations to within a few percent and help reduce the number of parameters necessary to model the observational appearance of moderately spinning neutron stars. Read More

The analytical understanding of quasinormal mode ringing requires an accurate knowledge of the Green's function describing the response of the black hole to external perturbations. We carry out a comprehensive study of quasinormal mode excitation for Kerr black holes. Relying on the formalism developed by Mano, Suzuki and Takasugi, we improve and extend previous calculations of the quasinormal mode residues in the complex frequency plane ("excitation factors" B_q). Read More

Interferometric detectors will very soon give us an unprecedented view of the gravitational-wave sky, and in particular of the explosive and transient Universe. Now is the time to challenge our theoretical understanding of short-duration gravitational-wave signatures from cataclysmic events, their connection to more traditional electromagnetic and particle astrophysics, and the data analysis techniques that will make the observations a reality. This paper summarizes the state of the art, future science opportunities, and current challenges in understanding gravitational-wave transients. Read More

Scalar-tensor theories are a compelling alternative to general relativity and one of the most accepted extensions of Einstein's theory. Black holes in these theories have no hair, but could grow "wigs" supported by time-dependent boundary conditions or spatial gradients. Time-dependent or spatially varying fields lead in general to nontrivial black hole dynamics, with potentially interesting experimental consequences. Read More

The most general stationary black-hole solution of Einstein-Maxwell theory in vacuum is the Kerr-Newman metric, specified by three parameters: mass M, spin J and charge Q. Within classical general relativity, the most important and challenging open problem in black-hole perturbation theory is the study of gravitational and electromagnetic fields in the Kerr-Newman geometry, because of the indissoluble coupling of the perturbation functions. Here we circumvent this long-standing problem by working in the slow-rotation limit. Read More

Astrophysical tests of general relativity belong to two categories: 1) "internal", i.e. consistency tests within the theory (for example, tests that astrophysical black holes are indeed described by the Kerr solution and its perturbations), or 2) "external", i. Read More

We study the influence of astrophysical formation scenarios on the precessional dynamics of spinning black-hole binaries by the time they enter the observational window of second- and third-generation gravitational-wave detectors, such as Advanced LIGO/Virgo, LIGO-India, KAGRA and the Einstein Telescope. Under the plausible assumption that tidal interactions are efficient at aligning the spins of few-solar mass black-hole progenitors with the orbital angular momentum, we find that black-hole spins should be expected to preferentially lie in a plane when they become detectable by gravitational-wave interferometers. This "resonant plane" is identified by the conditions \Delta\Phi=0{\deg} or \Delta\Phi=+/-180{\deg}, where \Delta\Phi is the angle between the components of the black-hole spins in the plane orthogonal to the orbital angular momentum. Read More

We show that nearly extremal Kerr black holes have two distinct sets of quasinormal modes, which we call zero-damping modes (ZDMs) and damped modes (DMs). The ZDMs exist for all harmonic indices $l$ and $m \ge 0$, and their frequencies cluster onto the real axis in the extremal limit. The DMs have nonzero damping for all black hole spins; they exist for all counterrotating modes ($m<0$) and for corotating modes with $0\leq \mu\lesssim \mu_c=0. Read More

We explore the impact of black hole spins on the dynamics of high-energy black hole collisions. We report results from numerical simulations with gamma-factors up to 2.49 and dimensionless spin parameter +0. Read More

We discuss a general method to study linear perturbations of slowly rotating black holes which is valid for any perturbation field, and particularly advantageous when the field equations are not separable. As an illustration of the method we investigate massive vector (Proca) perturbations in the Kerr metric, which do not appear to be separable in the standard Teukolsky formalism. Working in a perturbative scheme, we discuss two important effects induced by rotation: a Zeeman-like shift of nonaxisymmetric quasinormal modes and bound states with different azimuthal number m, and the coupling between axial and polar modes with different multipolar index l. Read More

Generic extensions of the standard model predict the existence of ultralight bosonic degrees of freedom. Several ongoing experiments are aimed at detecting these particles or constraining their mass range. Here we show that massive vector fields around rotating black holes can give rise to a strong superradiant instability which extracts angular momentum from the hole. Read More