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Osculating orbits in Schwarzschild spacetime, with an application to extreme mass-ratio inspirals

Pound, Adam and Poisson, Eric (2008) Osculating orbits in Schwarzschild spacetime, with an application to extreme mass-ratio inspirals Physical Review D, 77, (4), 044013-[18pp].

Record type: Article


We present a method to integrate the equations of motion that govern bound, accelerated orbits in Schwarzschild spacetime. At each instant the true worldline is assumed to lie tangent to a reference geodesic, called an osculating orbit, such that the worldline evolves smoothly from one such geodesic to the next. Because a geodesic is uniquely identified by a set of constant orbital elements, the transition between osculating orbits corresponds to an evolution of the elements. In this paper we derive the evolution equations for a convenient set of orbital elements, assuming that the force acts only within the orbital plane; this is the only restriction that we impose on the formalism, and we do not assume that the force must be small. As an application of our method, we analyze the relative motion of two massive bodies, assuming that one body is much smaller than the other. Using the hybrid Schwarzschild/post-Newtonian equations of motion formulated by Kidder, Will, and Wiseman, we treat the unperturbed motion as geodesic in a Schwarzschild spacetime with a mass parameter equal to the system’s total mass. The force then consists of terms that depend on the system’s reduced mass. We highlight the importance of conservative terms in this force, which cause significant long-term changes in the time dependence and phase of the relative orbit. From our results we infer some general limitations of the radiative approximation to the gravitational self-force, which uses only the dissipative terms in the force.

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Published date: 8 February 2008
Organisations: Applied Mathematics


Local EPrints ID: 339869
ISSN: 1550-7998
PURE UUID: f4e401cf-bc00-460a-87ed-4aa664074d9b

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Date deposited: 31 May 2012 16:00
Last modified: 21 Oct 2017 21:44

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Author: Adam Pound
Author: Eric Poisson

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