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Journal Article

Gravitational self-torque and spin precession in compact binaries


Harte,  Abraham I.
Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Dolan, S. R., Warburton, N., Harte, A. I., Tiec, A. L., Wardell, B., & Barack, L. (2014). Gravitational self-torque and spin precession in compact binaries. Physical Review D, 89: 064011. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.064011.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-7069-8
We calculate the effect of self-interaction on the "geodetic" spin precession of a compact body in a strong-field orbit around a black hole. Specifically, we consider the spin precession angle $\psi$ per radian of orbital revolution for a particle carrying mass $\mu$ and spin $s \ll (G/c) \mu^2$ in a circular orbit around a Schwarzschild black hole of mass $M \gg \mu$. We compute $\psi$ through $O(\mu/M)$ in perturbation theory, i.e, including the correction $\delta\psi$ (obtained numerically) due to the torque exerted by the conservative piece of the gravitational self-field. Comparison with a post-Newtonian (PN) expression for $\delta\psi$, derived here through 3PN order, shows good agreement but also reveals strong-field features which are not captured by the latter approximation. Our results can inform semi-analytical models of the strong-field dynamics in astrophysical binaries, important for ongoing and future gravitational-wave searches.