(LISA – The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, is a space-based gravitational wave observatory building on the success of LISA Pathfinder and LIGO. Led by ESA, the LISA mission is a collaboration of ESA, NASA, and an international consortium of scientists.)
The study of gravitational waves has opened up a new avenue for observing the universe, with the potential to reveal hidden phenomena and provide insights into some of the most elusive and enigmatic processes in the cosmos. The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is a space observatory that is expected to launch in 2034 and will be capable of detecting gravitational waves at lower frequencies than current detectors.
In a recent study by researchers at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien, HITS), led by Javier Moran-Fraile, the team used detailed three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations to predict the shape and strength of the gravitational wave signals associated with common-envelope interaction and merger events in binary stars.
The team found that for the studied models, the dynamical phase of common-envelope events and mergers between main-sequence stars lies outside of the detectability band of the LISA mission. However, they discovered that the final stages of common-envelope interactions leading to mergers of the stellar cores fall into the frequency band in which the sensitivity of LISA peaks, making them promising candidates for detection.
The team’s findings could provide crucial insights into the enigmatic dynamics of common-envelope interactions, as well as the formation of Thorne-Żytkow objects. Thorne-Żytkow objects are a hypothetical type of star that is believed to be formed by the merger of a neutron star or black hole with a red giant star. The existence of Thorne-Żytkow objects has not yet been confirmed, but their detection could provide important information about the evolution of binary star systems.
The study also highlights the potential for gravitational wave astronomy to reveal hidden phenomena that cannot be observed through traditional means. By studying the gravitational waves produced by binary star systems, researchers can gain insights into the dynamics of these systems and the processes that drive their evolution.
Overall, the study by Moran-Fraile and his team provides a glimpse into the potential of gravitational wave astronomy and highlights the importance of continued research in this field. With the launch of LISA in 2034, we may be on the verge of a new era of discovery, as we explore the hidden universe through the detection of gravitational waves.
Source: Morán-Fraile, J., Schneider, F., Roepke, F.K., Ohlmann, S.T., Pakmor, R., Soultanis, T., & Bauswein, A. (2023). Gravitational wave emission from dynamical stellar interactions. Astronomy & Astrophysics. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2303.05519