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Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
Close double neutron stars (DNSs) have been observed as Galactic radio pulsars, while their mergers have been detected as gamma-ray bursts and gravitational wave sources. They are believed to have experienced at least one common envelope episode (CEE) during their evolution prior to DNS formation. In the last decades, there have been numerous efforts to understand the details of the common envelope (CE) phase, but its computational modelling remains challenging. We present and discuss the properties of the donor and the binary at the onset of the Roche lobe overflow (RLOF) leading to these CEEs as predicted by rapid binary population synthesis models. These properties can be used as initial conditions for detailed simulations of the CE phase. There are three distinctive populations, classified by the evolutionary stage of the donor at the moment of the onset of the RLOF: giant donors with fully convective envelopes, cool donors with partially convective envelopes, and hot donors with radiative envelopes. We also estimate that, for standard assumptions, tides would not circularise a large fraction of these systems by the onset of RLOF. This makes the study and understanding of eccentric mass-transferring systems relevant for DNS populations.
As we enter the era of gravitational wave astronomy, we are beginning to collect observations which will enable us to explore aspects of astrophysics of massive stellar binaries which were previously beyond reach. In this paper we describe COMPAS (Compact Object Mergers: Population Astrophysics and Statistics), a new platform to allow us to deepen our understanding of isolated binary evolution and the formation of gravitational-wave sources. We describe the computational challenges associated with their exploration, and present preliminary results on overcoming them using Gaussian process regression as a simulation emulation technique.
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