Initial data for binary neutron stars with adjustable eccentricity

Niclas Moldenhauer, Charalampos M. Markakis, Nathan K. Johnson-Mcdaniel, Wolfgang Tichy, Bernd Brügmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binary neutron stars in circular orbits can be modeled as helically symmetric, i.e., stationary in a rotating frame. This symmetry gives rise to a first integral of the Euler equation, often employed for constructing equilibrium solutions via iteration. For eccentric orbits, however, the lack of helical symmetry has prevented the use of this method, and the numerical relativity community has often resorted to constructing initial data by superimposing boosted spherical stars without solving the Euler equation. The spuriously excited neutron star oscillations seen in evolutions of such data arise because such configurations lack the appropriate tidal deformations and are stationary in a linearly comoving - rather than rotating - frame. We consider eccentric configurations at apoapsis that are instantaneously stationary in a rotating frame. We extend the notion of helical symmetry to eccentric orbits, by approximating the elliptical orbit of each companion as instantaneously circular, using the ellipse's inscribed circle. The two inscribed helical symmetry vectors give rise to approximate instantaneous first integrals of the Euler equation throughout each companion. We use these integrals as the basis of a self-consistent iteration of the Einstein constraints to construct conformal thin-sandwich initial data for eccentric binaries. We find that the spurious stellar oscillations are reduced by at least an order of magnitude, compared with those found in evolutions of superposed initial data. The tidally induced oscillations, however, are physical and qualitatively similar to earlier evolutions. Finally, we show how to incorporate radial velocity due to radiation reaction in our inscribed helical symmetry vectors, which would allow one to obtain truly noneccentric initial data when our eccentricity parameter e is set to zero.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084043
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 21 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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