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Quasi-universal behavior of the threshold mass in unequal-mass, spinning binary neutron star mergers
(2021)

The lifetime of the remnant produced by the merger of two neutron stars can provide a wealth of information on the equation of state of nuclear matter and on the processes leading to the electromagnetic counterpart. Hence, it is essential to determine when this lifetime is the shortest, corresponding to when the remnant has a mass equal to the threshold mass, Mth, to prompt collapse to a black hole. We report on the results of more than 360 simulations of merging neutron-star binaries covering 40 different configurations differing in mass ratio and spin of the primary. Using this data, we have derived a quasi-universal relation for Mth and expressed its dependence on the mass ratio and spin of the binary. The new expression recovers the results of Koeppel et al. for equal-mass, irrotational binaries and reveals that Mth can increase (decrease) by 5% (10%) for binaries that have spins aligned (antialigned) with the orbital angular momentum and provides evidence for a nonmonotonic dependence of Mth on the mass asymmetry in the system. Finally, we extend to unequal masses and spinning binaries the lower limits that can be set on the stellar radii once a neutron star binary is detected, illustrating how the merger of an unequal-mass, rapidly spinning binary can significantly constrain the allowed values of the stellar radii.

Post-merger gravitational-wave signal from neutron-star binaries: a new look at an old problem
(2023)

The spectral properties of the post-merger gravitational-wave signal from a binary of neutron stars encodes a variety of information about the features of the system and of the equation of state describing matter around and above nuclear saturation density. Characterizing the properties of such a signal is an “old” problem, which first emerged when a number of frequencies were shown to be related to the properties of the binary through “quasiuniversal” relations. Here we take a new look at this old problem by computing the properties of the signal in terms of the Weyl scalar ψ4. In this way, and using a database of more than 100 simulations, we provide the first evidence for a new instantaneous frequency, y f0 4, associated with the instant of quasi-time-symmetry in the dynamics, and which also follows a quasi-universal relation. We also derive a new quasi-universal relation for the merger frequency f h mer, which provides a description of the data that is 4 times more accurate than previous expressions while requiring fewer fitting coefficients. Finally, consistent with the findings of numerous studies before ours, and using an enlarged ensemble of binary systems, we point out that the ℓ = 2, m = 1 gravitational-wave mode could become comparable with the traditional ℓ = 2, m = 2 mode on sufficiently long timescales, with strain amplitudes in a ratio |h21|/|h22| ∼ 0.1–1 under generic orientations of the binary, which could be measured by present detectors for signals with a large signal-to-noise ratio or by third-generation detectors for generic signals should no collapse occur.

Using full 3+1 dimensional general-relativistic hydrodynamic simulations of equal- and unequal-mass neutron-star binaries with properties that are consistent with those inferred from the inspiral of GW170817, we perform a detailed study of the quark-formation processes that could take place after merger. We use three equations of state consistent with current pulsar observations derived from a novel finite-temperature framework based on V-QCD, a non-perturbative gauge/gravity model for Quantum Chromodynamics. In this way, we identify three different post-merger stages at which mixed baryonic and quark matter, as well as pure quark matter, are generated. A phase transition triggered collapse already ≲ 10 ms after the merger reveals that the softest version of our equations of state is actually inconsistent with the expected second-long post-merger lifetime of GW170817. Our results underline the impact that gravitational wave observations of binary neutron-star mergers can have in constraining the equation of state of nuclear matter, especially in its most extreme regimes.

Using full 3+1 dimensional general-relativistic hydrodynamic simulations of equal- and unequal-mass neutron-star binaries with properties that are consistent with those inferred from the inspiral of GW170817, we perform a detailed study of the quark-formation processes that could take place after merger. We use three equations of state consistent with current pulsar observations derived from a novel finite-temperature framework based on V-QCD, a non-perturbative gauge/gravity model for Quantum Chromodynamics. In this way, we identify three different post-merger stages at which mixed baryonic and quark matter, as well as pure quark matter, are generated. A phase transition triggered collapse already ≲10ms after the merger reveals that the softest version of our equations of state is actually inconsistent with the expected second-long post-merger lifetime of GW170817. Our results underline the impact that multi-messenger observations of binary neutron-star mergers can have in constraining the equation of state of nuclear matter, especially in its most extreme regimes.

Post-merger gravitational-wave signal from neutron-star binaries: a new look at an old problem
(2023)

The spectral properties of the post-merger gravitational-wave signal from a binary of neutron stars encodes a variety of information about the features of the system and of the equation of state describing matter around and above nuclear saturation density. Characterising the properties of such a signal is an “old” problem, which first emerged when a number of frequencies were shown to be related to the properties of the binary through “quasi-universal” relations. Here we take a new look at this old problem by computing the properties of the signal in terms of the Weyl scalar ψ4. In this way, and using a database of more than 100 simulations, we provide the first evidence for a new instantaneous frequency, f ψ4 0, associated with the instant of quasi timesymmetry in the postmerger dynamics, and which also follows a quasi-universal relation. We also derive a new quasi-universal relation for the merger frequency f h mer, which provides a description of the data that is four times more accurate than previous expressions while requiring fewer fitting coefficients. Finally, consistently with the findings of numerous studies before ours, and using an enlarged ensamble of binary systems we point out that the ℓ = 2, m = 1 gravitational-wave mode could become comparable with the traditional ℓ = 2, m = 2 mode on sufficiently long timescales, with strain amplitudes in a ratio |h 21|/|h 22| ∼ 0.1 − 1 under generic orientations of the binary, which could be measured by present detectors for signals with large signal-to-noise ratio or by third-generation detectors for generic signals should no collapse occur.

The amplification of magnetic fields plays an important role in explaining numerous astrophysical phenomena associated with binary neutron star mergers, such as mass ejection and the powering of short gamma-ray bursts. Magnetic fields in isolated neutron stars are often assumed to be confined to a small region near the stellar surface, while they are normally taken to fill the whole star in numerical modeling of mergers. By performing high-resolution, global, and high-order general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations, we investigate the impact of a purely crustal magnetic field and contrast it with the standard configuration consisting of a dipolar magnetic field with the same magnetic energy but filling the whole star. While the crust configurations are very effective in generating strong magnetic fields during the Kelvin–Helmholtz-instability stage, they fail to achieve the same level of magnetic-field amplification of the full-star configurations. This is due to the lack of magnetized material in the neutron-star interiors to be used for further turbulent amplification and to the surface losses of highly magnetized matter in the crust configurations. Hence, the final magnetic energies in the two configurations differ by more than 1 order of magnitude. We briefly discuss the impact of these results on astrophysical observables and how they can be employed to deduce the magnetic topology in merging binaries.

Determining the phase structure of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) and its Equation of State (EOS) at densities and temperatures realized inside neutron stars and their mergers is a long-standing open problem. The holographic V-QCD framework provides a model for the EOS of dense and hot QCD, which describes the deconfinement phase transition between a dense baryonic and a quark matter phase. We use this model in fully general relativistic hydrodynamic (GRHD) simulations to study the formation of quark matter and the emitted gravitational wave signal of binary systems that are similar to the first ever observed neutron star merger event GW170817.