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LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, will usher in a new era in gravitational-wave astronomy. As the first anticipated space-based gravitational-wave detector, it will expand our view to the millihertz gravitational-wave sky, where a spectacular variety of interesting new sources abound: from millions of ultra-compact binaries in our Galaxy, to mergers of massive black holes at cosmological distances; from the beginnings of inspirals that will venture into the ground-based detectors' view to the death spiral of compact objects into massive black holes, and many sources in between. Central to realising LISA's discovery potential are waveform models, the theoretical and phenomenological predictions of the pattern of gravitational waves that these sources emit. This white paper is presented on behalf of the Waveform Working Group for the LISA Consortium. It provides a review of the current state of waveform models for LISA sources, and describes the significant challenges that must yet be overcome.

Light axion fields, if they exist, can be sourced by neutron stars due to their coupling to nuclear matter, and play a role in binary neutron star mergers. We report on a search for such axions by analyzing the gravitational waves from the binary neutron star inspiral GW170817. We find no evidence of axions in the sampled parameter space. The null result allows us to impose constraints on axions with masses below 10−11 eV by excluding the ones with decay constants ranging from 1.6×1016 to 1018 GeV at a 3𝜎 confidence level. Our analysis provides the first constraints on axions from neutron star inspirals, and rules out a large region in parameter space that has not been probed by the existing experiments.

Tidal deformability of fermion-boson stars: neutron stars admixed with ultralight dark matter
(2023)

In this work we investigate the tidal deformability of a neutron star admixed with dark matter, modeled as a massive, self-interacting, complex scalar field. We derive the equations to compute the tidal deformability of the full Einstein-Hilbert-Klein-Gordon system self-consistently, and probe the influence of the scalar field mass and self-interaction strength on the total mass and tidal properties of the combined system. We find that dark matter core-like configurations lead to more compact objects with smaller tidal deformability, and dark matter cloud-like configurations lead to larger tidal deformability. Electromagnetic observations of certain cloud-like configurations would appear to violate the Buchdahl limit. The self-interaction strength is found to have a significant effect on both mass and tidal deformability. We discuss observational constraints and the connection to anomalous detections. We also investigate how this model compares to those with an effective bosonic equation of state and find the interaction strength where they converge sufficiently.

Intermediate Mass Ratio Inspirals (IMRIs) will be observable with space-based gravitational wave detectors such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). To this end, the environmental effects in such systems have to be modeled and understood. These effects can include (baryonic) accretion disks and dark matter (DM) overdensities, so called spikes. For the first time, we model an IMRI system with both an accretion disk and a DM spike present and compare their effects on the inspiral and the emitted gravitational wave signal. We study the eccentricity evolution, employ the braking index and derive the dephasing index, which turn out to be complementary observational signatures. They allow us to disentangle the accretion disk and DM spike effects in the IMRI system.

Circularization vs. eccentrification in intermediate mass ratio inspirals inside dark matter spikes
(2022)

Inspirals of an Intermediate Mass Black Hole (IMBH) and a solar mass type object will be observable by space based gravitational wave detectors such as The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). A dark matter overdensity around an IMBH - a dark matter spike - can affect the orbital evolution of the system. We consider here such Intermediate Mass Ratio Inspirals on eccentric orbits, experiencing dynamical friction of the dark matter spike. We find that by including the phase space distribution of the dark matter, the dynamical friction tends to circularize the orbit, in contrast to previous inquiries. We derive a general condition for circularization or eccentrification for any given dissipative force. In addition to the dephasing, we suggest using the circularization rate as another probe of the dark matter spike. Observing these effects would be an indicator for the particle nature of dark matter.

Inspirals of an intermediate mass black hole (IMBH) and a solar mass type object will be observable by space based gravitational wave detectors such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. A dark matter overdensity around an IMBH—a dark matter spike—can affect the orbital evolution of the system. We consider here such intermediate mass ratio inspirals on eccentric orbits, experiencing dynamical friction of the dark matter spike. We find that by including the relative velocities of the dark matter particles, the dynamical friction tends to circularize the orbit, in contrast to previous inquiries. We derive a general condition for circularization or eccentrification for any given dissipative force. In addition to the dephasing, we suggest using the circularization rate as another probe of the dark matter spike. Observing these effects would be an indicator for the particle nature of dark matter.

Context. Merging compact objects such as binary black holes provide a promising probe for the physics of dark matter (DM). The gravitational waves emitted during inspiral potentially allow to detect DM spikes around black holes. This is because the dynamical friction force experienced by the inspiraling black hole alters the orbital period and thus the gravitational wave signal. Aims. The dynamical friction arising from DM can potentially differ from the collisionless case when DM is subject to self-interactions. This paper aims to understand how self-interactions impact dynamical friction. Methods. To study the dynamical friction force, we use idealized N-body simulations, where we include self-interacting dark matter. Results. We find that the dynamical friction force for inspiraling black holes would be typically enhanced by DM self-interactions compared to a collisionless medium (ignoring differences in the DM density). At lower velocities below the sound speed, we find that the dynamical friction force can be reduced by the presence of self-interactions. Conclusions. DM self-interactions have a significant effect on the dynamical friction for black hole mergers. Assuming the Chandrasekhar formula may underpredict the deceleration due to dynamical friction.

Circularization vs. eccentrification in intermediate mass ratio inspirals inside dark matter spikes
(2021)