Numerical relativity waveform surrogate model for generically precessing binary black hole mergers
AbstractA generic, noneccentric binary black hole (BBH) system emits gravitational waves (GWs) that are completely described by seven intrinsic parameters: the black hole spin vectors and the ratio of their masses. Simulating a BBH coalescence by solving Einstein’s equations numerically is computationally expensive, requiring days to months of computing resources for a single set of parameter values. Since theoretical predictions of the GWs are often needed for many different source parameters, a fast and accurate model is essential. We present the first surrogate model for GWs from the coalescence of BBHs including all seven dimensions of the intrinsic noneccentric parameter space. The surrogate model, which we call NRSur7dq2, is built from the results of 744 numerical relativity simulations. NRSur7dq2 covers spin magnitudes up to 0.8 and mass ratios up to 2, includes all ℓ≤4 modes, begins about 20 orbits before merger, and can be evaluated in ∼50 ms. We find the largest NRSur7dq2 errors to be comparable to the largest errors in the numerical relativity simulations, and more than an order of magnitude smaller than the errors of other waveform models. Our model, and more broadly the methods developed here, will enable studies that were not previously possible when using highly accurate waveforms, such as parameter inference and tests of general relativity with GW observations.