Computing binary black hole merger waveforms using openGR
One of the most important predictions of General Relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity, is the existence of gravitational radiation. The strongest source of such radiation is expected to come from the merging of black holes. Upgrades to large ground based interferometric detectors (LIGO, VIRGO, GEO 600) have increased their sensitivity to the point that the first direct observation of a gravitational wave is expected to occur within the next few years. The chance of detection is greatly improved by the use of simulated waveforms which can be used as templates for signal processing. Recent advances in numerical relativity have allowed for long stable evolution of black hole mergers and the generation of expected waveforms.
openGR is a modular, open framework black hole evolution code developed at The University of Texas at Austin Center for Relativity. Based on the BSSN (strongly hyperbolic) formulation of Einstein’s equations and the moving puncture method, we are able to model the evolution of a binary black hole system through the merger and extract the gravitational radiation produced. Although we are generally interested in binary interactions, openGR is capable of handling any number of black holes. This work serves as an overview of the capabilities of openGR and a demonstration of the physics it can be used to explore.