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Gravitational-wave (GW) astrophysics is a field in full blossom. Since the landmark detection of GWs from a binary black hole on September 14th 2015, fifty-two compact-object binaries have been reported by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration. Such events carry astrophysical and cosmological information ranging from an understanding of how black holes and neutron stars are formed, what neutron stars are composed of, how the Universe expands, and allow testing general relativity in the highly-dynamical strong-field regime. It is the goal of GW astrophysics to extract such information as accurately as possible. Yet, this is only possible if the tools and technology used to detect and analyze GWs are advanced enough. A key aspect of GW searches are waveform models, which encapsulate our best predictions for the gravitational radiation under a certain set of parameters, and that need to be cross-correlated with data to extract GW signals. Waveforms must be very accurate to avoid missing important physics in the data, which might be the key to answer the fundamental questions of GW astrophysics. The continuous improvements of the current LIGO-Virgo detectors, the development of next-generation ground-based detectors such as the Einstein Telescope or the Cosmic Explorer, as well as the development of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), demand accurate waveform models. While available models are enough to capture the low spins, comparable-mass binaries routinely detected in LIGO-Virgo searches, those for sources from both current and next-generation ground-based and spaceborne detectors must be accurate enough to detect binaries with large spins and asymmetry in the masses. Moreover, the thousands of sources that we expect to detect with future detectors demand accurate waveforms to mitigate biases in the estimation of signals’ parameters due to the presence of a foreground of many sources that overlap in the frequency band. This is recognized as one of the biggest challenges for the analysis of future-detectors’ data, since biases might hinder the extraction of important astrophysical and cosmological information from future detectors’ data. In the first part of this thesis, we discuss how to improve waveform models for binaries with high spins and asymmetry in the masses. In the second, we present the first generic metrics that have been proposed to predict biases in the presence of a foreground of many overlapping signals in GW data.
For the first task, we will focus on several classes of analytical techniques. Current models for LIGO and Virgo studies are based on the post-Newtonian (PN, weak-field, small velocities) approximation that is most natural for the bound orbits that are routinely detected in GW searches. However, two other approximations have risen in prominence, the post-Minkowskian (PM, weak- field only) approximation natural for unbound (scattering) orbits and the small-mass-ratio (SMR) approximation typical of binaries in which the mass of one body is much bigger than the other. These are most appropriate to binaries with high asymmetry in the masses that challenge current waveform models. Moreover, they allow one to “cover” regions of the parameter space of coalescing binaries, thereby improving the interpolation (and faithfulness) of waveform models. The analytical approximations to the relativistic two-body problem can synergically be included within the effective-one-body (EOB) formalism, in which the two-body information from each approximation can be recast into an effective problem of a mass orbiting a deformed Schwarzschild (or Kerr) black hole. The hope is that the resultant models can cover both the low-spin comparable-mass binaries that are routinely detected, and the ones that challenge current models. The first part of this thesis is dedicated to a study about how to best incorporate information from the PN, PM, SMR and EOB approaches in a synergistic way. We also discuss how accurate the resulting waveforms are, as compared against numerical-relativity (NR) simulations. We begin by comparing PM models, whether alone or recast in the EOB framework, against PN models and NR simulations. We will show that PM information has the potential to improve currently-employed models for LIGO and Virgo, especially if recast within the EOB formalism. This is very important, as the PM approximation comes with a host of new computational techniques from particle physics to exploit. Then, we show how a combination of PM and SMR approximations can be employed to access previously-unknown PN orders, deriving the third subleading PN dynamics for spin-orbit and (aligned) spin1-spin2 couplings. Such new results can then be included in the EOB models currently used in GW searches and parameter estimation studies, thereby improving them when the binaries have high spins. Finally, we build an EOB model for quasi-circular nonspinning binaries based on the SMR approximation (rather than the PN one as usually done). We show how this is done in detail without incurring in the divergences that had affected previous attempts, and compare the resultant model against NR simulations. We find that the SMR approximation is an excellent approximation for all (quasi-circular nonspinning) binaries, including both the equal-mass binaries that are routinely detected in GW searches and the ones with highly asymmetric masses. In particular, the SMR-based models compare much better than the PN models, suggesting that SMR-informed EOB models might be the key to model binaries in the future. In the second task of this thesis, we work within the linear-signal ap- proximation and describe generic metrics to predict inference biases on the parameters of a GW source of interest in the presence of confusion noise from unfitted foregrounds and from residuals of other signals that have been incorrectly fitted out. We illustrate the formalism with simple (yet realistic) LISA sources, and demonstrate its validity against Monte-Carlo simulations. The metrics we describe pave the way for more realistic studies to quantify the biases with future ground-based and spaceborne detectors.

A task-based parallel elliptic solver for numerical relativity with discontinuous Galerkin methods
(2022)

Elliptic partial differential equations are ubiquitous in physics. In numerical relativity---the study of computational solutions to the Einstein field equations of general relativity---elliptic equations govern the initial data that seed every simulation of merging black holes and neutron stars. In the quest to produce detailed numerical simulations of these most cataclysmic astrophysical events in our Universe, numerical relativists resort to the vast computing power offered by current and future supercomputers. To leverage these computational resources, numerical codes for the time evolution of general-relativistic initial value problems are being developed with a renewed focus on parallelization and computational efficiency. Their capability to solve elliptic problems for accurate initial data must keep pace with the increasing detail of the simulations, but elliptic problems are traditionally hard to parallelize effectively.
In this thesis, I develop new numerical methods to solve elliptic partial differential equations on computing clusters, with a focus on initial data for orbiting black holes and neutron stars. I develop a discontinuous Galerkin scheme for a wide range of elliptic equations, and a stack of task-based parallel algorithms for their iterative solution. The resulting multigrid-Schwarz preconditioned Newton-Krylov elliptic solver proves capable of parallelizing over 200 million degrees of freedom to at least a few thousand cores, and already solves initial data for a black hole binary about ten times faster than the numerical relativity code SpEC. I also demonstrate the applicability of the new elliptic solver across physical disciplines, simulating the thermal noise in thin mirror coatings of interferometric gravitational-wave detectors to unprecedented accuracy. The elliptic solver is implemented in the new open-source SpECTRE numerical relativity code, and set up to support simulations of astrophysical scenarios for the emerging era of gravitational-wave and multimessenger astronomy.