The following are a selection of movies from some recent numerical simulations that I have performed using the Spectral Einstein Code (SpEC) as part of my research in collarboation with the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) collaboration. For more, please see the SXS Collaboration's YouTube channel.
A computer simulation of the gravitational waves from the merging black holes that LIGO observed. Our three-dimensional space is shown as a two-dimensional surface, with one dimension removed. The black holes’ strong gravity curves the space near them into funnel shapes. As the black holes spiral together and merge into one, gravitational waves ripple outward. The movie is shown in slow motion, about 40 times slower than real time.
This movie shows two black holes that are spinning very rapidly (about 97% of the theoretical maximum) as they spiral together and merge. The simulation was published in Geoffrey Lovelace, Michael Boyle, Mark A. Scheel, and Bela Szilagyi, Class. Quantum Grav. 29, 045003 (2012) (http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.2229), and the movie was rendered by Cornell undergraduate researcher Robert McGehee, Jr.
Merging black holes are among the most promising sources of gravitational waves for the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO). Accurate predictions of the gravitational waves emitted by merging black holes---necessary both for detecting the waves in LIGO data and for estimating the properties of the binaries that generated those waves---can only be constructed using numerical simulations. In this talk, I will review recent progress and discuss current challenges in numerical simulations of merging, spinning black holes. After summarizing recent results (including the effects of black-hole spin on the holes' motion, the remnant hole's mass and spin, and the emitted gravitational waveforms), I will discuss the significant challenges that simulations of spinning binary black holes must still overcome. In particular, I will discuss the challenges of constructing and applying simulated waveforms to gravitational-wave data analysis, particularly when the spins are misaligned (causing orbital and spin precession) and when the holes are spinning near the theoretical maximum.