Measuring the neutron star equation of state with gravitational wave observations

Jocelyn S. Read, Charalampos Markakis, Masaru Shibata, Koji Uryu, Jolien D.E. Creighton, John L. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the results of a first study that uses numerical simulations to estimate the accuracy with which one can use gravitational wave observations of double neutron-star inspiral to measure parameters of the neutron-star equation of state. The simulations use the evolution and initial-data codes of Shibata and Uryū to compute the last several orbits and the merger of neutron stars, with matter described by a parametrized equation of state. Previous work suggested the use of an effective cutoff frequency to place constraints on the equation of state. We find, however, that greater accuracy is obtained by measuring departures from the point-particle limit of the gravitational waveform produced during the late inspiral. As the stars approach their final plunge and merger, the gravitational wave phase accumulates more rapidly for smaller values of the neutron-star compactness (the ratio of the mass of the neutron-star to its radius). We estimate that realistic equations of state will lead to gravitational waveforms that are distinguishable from point-particle inspirals at an effective distance (the distance to an optimally oriented and located system that would produce an equivalent waveform amplitude) of 100 Mpc or less. As Lattimer and Prakash observed, neutron-star radius is closely tied to the pressure at density not far above nuclear. Our results suggest that broadband gravitational wave observations at frequencies between 500 and 1000 Hz will constrain this pressure, and we estimate the accuracy with which it can be measured. Related first estimates of radius measurability show that the radius can be determined to an accuracy of δR∼1km at 100 Mpc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124033
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 22 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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