Why I-Love-Q: Explaining why universality emerges in compact objects

Kent Yagi, Leo C. Stein, George Pappas, Nicolás Yunes, Theocharis A. Apostolatos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black holes are said to have no hair because all of their multipole moments can be expressed in terms of just their mass, charge and spin angular momentum. The recent discovery of approximately equation-of-state-independent relations among certain multipole moments in neutron stars suggests that they are also approximately bald. We here explore the yet unknown origin for this universality. First, we investigate which region of the neutron star's interior and of the equation of state is most responsible for the universality. We find that the universal relation between the moment of inertia and the quadrupole moment is dominated by the star's outer core, a shell of width 50%-95% of the total radius, which corresponds to the density range 1014-1015g/cm3. In this range, realistic neutron star equations of state are not sufficiently similar to each other to explain the universality observed. Second, we study the impact on the universality of approximating stellar isodensity contours as self-similar ellipsoids. An analytical calculation in the nonrelativistic limit reveals that the shape of the ellipsoids per se does not affect the universal relations much, but relaxing the self-similarity assumption can completely destroy it. Third, we investigate the eccentricity profiles of rotating relativistic stars and find that the stellar eccentricity is roughly constant, with variations of roughly 20%-30% in the region that matters to the universal relations. Fourth, we repeat the above analysis for differentially rotating, noncompact, regular stars and find that this time the eccentricity is not constant, with variations that easily exceed 100%, and moreover universality is lost. These findings suggest that universality arises as an emergent approximate symmetry: as one flows in the stellar-structure phase space from noncompact star region to the relativistic star region, the eccentricity variation inside stars decreases, leading to approximate self-similarity in their isodensity contours, which then leads to the universal behavior observed in their exterior multipole moments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063010
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 23 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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