Advanced models of black hole–neutron star binaries and their astrophysical impact

Zachariah B. Etienne, Vasileios Paschalidis, Stuart L. Shapiro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Fully general relativistic simulations of black hole–neutron star (BHNS) binary inspiral and merger indicate that the NS simply plunges into the BH over much of the likely binary parameter space, without leaving a remnant disk. Plunging mergers are unlikely to generate useful information about the NS equation of state (EOS) from the gravitational waves (GWs) alone. However, when the initial BH possesses a moderate to high spin, aligned with the orbital angular momentum, or when the NS possesses a low compaction, the NS may tidally disrupt outside the BH’s innermost stable circular orbit radius, generating a massive accretion disk and a long tidal tail. When observed by Advanced LIGO/VIRGO, the GWs from this scenario may in fact constrain the NS EOS. After disruption, some of the neutron-rich tidal tail may be unbound, favoring formation of r-process elements. The subsequent decay may be observable in the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. Meanwhile, the remnant BH accretion disk may provide the energy reservoir for a short gamma-ray burst. Finally, even in cases for which no EOS informationmay be gleaned, the BHNS binary is expected to act as a unipolar inductor during inspiral, potentially releasing an EM signature that distinguishes certain binary parameters. Taken together, these phenomena make BHNS binary mergers rich and exciting systems for theoretical modeling, and we outline the latest results from the most advanced, fully general relativistic simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGravitational Wave Astrophysics - Proceedings of the 3rd Session of the Sant Cugat Forum on Astrophysics
EditorsCarlos F. Sopuerta, Carlos F. Sopuerta
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319104874, 9783319104874
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event3rd Session of the Sant Cugat Forum on Astrophysics, 2014 - Sant Cugat, Spain
Duration: Apr 22 2014Apr 25 2014

Publication series

NameAstrophysics and Space Science Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1570-6591
ISSN (Electronic)1570-6605


Conference3rd Session of the Sant Cugat Forum on Astrophysics, 2014
CitySant Cugat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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