Annals of Mathematical Sciences and Applications

Volume 1 (2016)

Number 1

Observational cosmology with semi-relativistic stars

Pages: 183 – 194

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4310/AMSA.2016.v1.n1.a5

Authors

Abraham Loeb (Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

James Guillochon (Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

Abstract

Galaxy mergers lead to the formation of massive black hole binaries which can accelerate background stars close to the speed of light. We estimate the comoving density of ejected stars with a peculiar velocity in excess of $0.1c$ or $0.5c$ to be $\sim 10^{10}$ and $10^{5}$ $\mathrm{Gpc}^{-3}$, respectively, in the present-day Universe. Semi-relativistic giant stars will be detectable with forthcoming telescopes out to a distance of a few $\mathrm{Mpc}$, where their proper motion, radial velocity, and age can be spectroscopically measured. In difference from traditional cosmological messengers, such as photons, neutrinos, or cosmic-rays, these stars shine and so their trajectories need not be directed at the observer for them to be detected. Tracing the stars to their parent galaxies as a function of speed and age will provide a novel test of the equivalence principle and the standard cosmological parameters. Semi-relativistic stars could also flag black hole binaries as gravitational wave sources for the future eLISA observatory.

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Published 12 April 2016