Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Physics

Advisor

Daniel Kennefick

Committee Member

Julia Kennefick

Second Committee Member

Reeta Vyas

Third Committee Member

Yo'av Rieck

Keywords

Pure sciences, Black hole orbits, General relativity

Abstract

A binary black hole system, where each black hole orbits the system's center of mass, loses energy by emission of gravitational waves. This causes both black holes to spiral in towards each other. However, if the binary were to, by some mechanism, gain orbital energy at the same rate that it radiates away this energy, a non-decaying or “floating” orbit would result. The thesis uses superradiant scattering and tidal friction, which are two equivalent ways of looking at a process by which the system can gain orbital energy from the spin energy of either black hole, to determine the possibility of a floating orbit. It turns out that, for extreme mass ratio binary black holes in circular equatorial orbits, the energy radiated away comfortably exceeds the combined energy gained from the spin of both black holes. Thus, the thesis concludes that circular equatorial floating orbits generated via superradiant scattering/tidal friction are not possible.

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