Nature abhors a circle

Nicholas Loutrel, Samuel Liebersbach, Nicolás Yunes, Neil Cornish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The loss of orbital energy and angular momentum to gravitational waves produced in a binary inspiral forces the orbital eccentricity to adiabatically evolve and oscillate. For comparable-mass binaries, the osculating eccentricity is thought to decrease monotonically in the inspiral. Contrary to this, we here show that, once the osculating eccentricity is small enough, radiation reaction forces it to grow secularly before the binary reaches the last stable orbit. We explore this behavior, its physical interpretation and consequences, and its potential impact on future gravitational wave observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number01LT01
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • eccentricity
  • gravitational waves
  • post-Newtonian approximation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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  • Cite this

    Loutrel, N., Liebersbach, S., Yunes, N., & Cornish, N. (2019). Nature abhors a circle. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 36(1), [01LT01].