The effect of dynamical tides on gravitational waves from eccentric double white dwarfs

Shu Yan Lau, Kent Yagi, Phil Arras

Submitted on 14 September 2022


The dynamical tide can play an important role in the orbital motion of close eccentric double white dwarf binaries. As the launching of the space-based gravitational-wave detector, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), is just around the corner, detection of gravitational wave signals from such systems is anticipated. In this paper, we discuss the influence of the dynamical tide on eccentric orbits, focusing on the effect on orbital precession. We show that in orbits with a high eccentricity, resonance can cause a large precession when a harmonic of the orbital frequency matches the natural frequencies of the normal modes of the star. In contrast to the case with circular orbits, each mode can encounter multiple resonances with different harmonics and these resonant regions can cover about 10% of the frequency space for orbits with close separations. In this case, the tidal precession effect is distinct from the other contributions and can be identified with LISA if the signal-to-noise ratio is high enough. However, within the highly eccentric-small separation region, the dynamical tide causes chaotic motion and the gravitational wave signal becomes unpredictable. Even not at resonance, the dynamical tide can contribute up to 20% of the precession for orbits close to Roche-lobe filling separation with low eccentricities and LISA can resolve these off-resonant dynamical tide effects within the low eccentricity-small orbital separation region of the parameter space. For lower mass systems, the dynamical tide effect can degenerate with the uncertainties of the eccentricity, making it unmeasurable from the precession rate alone. For higher mass systems, the radiation reaction effect becomes significant enough to constrain the eccentricity, allowing the measurement of the dynamical tide.


Comment: 13 pages. 9 figures. Submitted to Phys. Rev. D

Subjects: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology; Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics