Exploring correlations between precessing binary black holes and their merger remnants

Author: Guest blogger
Posted: 23 Jan 2020 | 15:40

The University of BirminghamLuca Reali visited the University of Birmingham from June to September 2019 as part of HPC-Europa3 to conduct research into binary black hole mergers. In this short article he describes his time in the UK.

Hi! I am Luca Reali, a master's student in physics at the Università degli Studi di Milano, in Italy. This summer, I spent three months visiting the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Birmingham, supported by the HPC-Europa3 programme and hosted by Dr Davide Gerosa. We exploited Cirrus resources to run a large array of simulations of spinning binary black holes, which are prominent gravitational wave sources for current (LIGO/Virgo) and future (LISA) detectors. In particular, we focused on studying the correlations between the parameters of the merger remnant (mass, spin, recoil velocity) and the dynamical properties of the binary.

By merging multiple layers of post-Newtonian evolutionary techniques and numerical relativity surrogate models into a single piece of code, we were able to develop the first complete procedure to map the asymptotic configuration of a binary black hole at infinitely large separations into the properties of its merger remnant. Thanks to the high accuracy of the underlying model and the large parameter space covered by our simulations, we highlighted previously unexplored aspects in the dynamics. A paper presenting the main results we obtained during my visit is currently in preparation, and our work may open up some promising lines of research for future projects, delivering new predictions to be tested against data in the upcoming age of high precision gravitational-wave astronomy.

I really enjoyed my visit to the UK. The collaboration with Davide was very fruitful, and it allowed me to work in a stimulating environment and to get in touch with leading experts in the field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Having access to Cirrus computational resources played a crucial role in carrying out my project, and the HPC-Europa team at the EPCC in Edinburgh was really supportive throughout my staying: they monitored my progress every week and readily answered to all my questions. I spent the first two days of my visit in Edinburgh, where I met my contacts personally and briefly exposed them to my project. I felt welcome from the very first moments, as they were all very nice and curious about my work.

Last but not least, I got to visit two beautiful cities in Edinburgh and Birmingham. Even though I worked hard, I still managed to see the main tourist attractions in my spare time: from the Canals and the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, to the Old Town and Holyrood Park in the Scottish capital. As an Italian I also must point out that I enjoyed the local food, especially the Indian restaurants is Birmingham - they are really something else!

Finally, I greatly recommend the HPC-Europa experience and I would particularly like to thank Catherine Inglis and William Lucas for all the support received. 

HPC-Europa3 website: www.hpc-europa.eu
Next call closes on 20 February 2020.


Luca Reali, Università degli Studi di Milano

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