Interior of a binary black hole merger

Daniel Pook-Kolb, Ofek Birnholtz, Badri Krishnan, Erik Schnetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We find strong numerical evidence for a new phenomenon in a binary black hole spacetime, namely, the merger of marginally outer trapped surfaces (MOTSs). By simulating the head-on collision of two nonspinning unequal mass black holes, we observe that the MOTS associated with the final black hole merges with the two initially disjoint surfaces corresponding to the two initial black holes. This yields a connected sequence of MOTSs interpolating between the initial and final state all the way through the nonlinear binary black hole merger process. In addition, we show the existence of a MOTS with self-intersections formed immediately after the merger. This scenario now allows us to track physical quantities (such as mass, angular momentum, higher multipoles, and fluxes) across the merger, which can be potentially compared with the gravitational wave signal in the wave zone, and with observations by gravitational wave detectors. This also suggests a possibility of proving the Penrose inequality mathematically for generic astrophysical binary back hole configurations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171102
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Physical Society.


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