Spin-precession: Breaking the black hole-neutron star degeneracy

Katerina Chatziioannou, Neil Cornish, Antoine Klein, Nicolás Yunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mergers of compact stellar remnants are prime targets for the LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave detectors. The gravitational wave signals from these merger events can be used to study the mass and spin distribution of stellar remnants, and provide information about black hole horizons and the material properties of neutron stars. However, it has been suggested that degeneracies in the way that the star's mass and spin are imprinted in the waveforms may make it impossible to distinguish between black holes and neutron stars. Here we show that the precession of the orbital plane due to spin-orbit coupling breaks the mass-spin degeneracy, and allows us to distinguish between standard neutron stars and alternative possibilities, such as black holes or exotic neutron stars with large masses and spins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL17
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Gravitational waves
  • Methods: Data analysis
  • Stars: Neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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