Constraining the spin parameter of near-extremal black holes using LISA

Ollie Burke, Jonathan Gair, Matthew C. Edwards, Joan Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a model that generates first order adiabatic EMRI waveforms for quasi-circular equatorial inspirals of compact objects into rapidly rotating (near-extremal) black holes. Using our model, we show that LISA could measure the spin parameter of near-extremal black holes (for a≳0.9999) with extraordinary precision, ∼ 3-4 orders of magnitude better than for moderate spins, a∼0.9. Such spin measurements would be one of the tightest measurements of an astrophysical parameter within a gravitational wave context. Our results are primarily based off a Fisher matrix analysis, but are verified using both frequentest and Bayesian techniques. We present analytical arguments that explain these high spin precision measurements. The high precision arises from the spin dependence of the radial inspiral evolution, which is dominated by geodesic properties of the secondary orbit, rather than radiation reaction. High precision measurements are only possible if we observe the exponential damping of the signal that is characteristic of the near-horizon regime of near-extremal inspirals. Our results demonstrate that, if such black holes exist, LISA would be able to successfully identify rapidly rotating black holes up to a=1−10−9 , far past the Thorne limit of a=0.998.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124054
Number of pages31
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020

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