The work of this dissertation will study various aspects of the dynamics of compact objects using numerical simulations.We consider BH dynamics within two modified or alternative theories of gravity. Within a family of Einstein-Maxwell-Dilaton-Axion theories, we find that the GW waveforms from binary black hole (BBH) mergers differ from the standard GW waveform prediction of GR for especially large axion values. For more astrophysically realistic (i.e. smaller) values, the differences become negligible and undetectable. Weestablish the existence of a well-posed initial value problem for a second alternative theory fo gravity (quadratic gravity) and demonstrate in spherical symmetry that a linear instability is effectively removed on consideration of the full nonlinear theory.We describe the key components and development of a code for studying BBH mergers for which the mass ratio of the binaries is not close to one. Such intermediate mass ratio inspirals (IMRIs) are much more difficult to simulate and present greater demands on resolution, distributed computing, accuracy and efficiency. To this end, we present a highly-scalable framework that combines a parallel octree-refined adaptive mesh with a wavelet adaptive multiresolution approach. We give results for IMRIs with mass ratios up to 100:1. We study the ejecta from BNS in Newtonian gravity. Using smoothed particle hydrodynamics we develop and present the highly scalable FleCSPH code to simulate such mergers. As part of the ejecta analysis, we consider these mergers and their aftermath as prime candidates for heavy element creation and calculate r-process nucleosynthesis within the post-merger ejecta. Lastly we consider a non-standard, yet increasingly explored, interaction between a BH and a NS that serves as a toy model for primordial black holes (PBH) and their possible role as dark matter candidates. We present results from a study of such systems in which a small BH forms at the center of a NS. Evolving the spherically symmetric system in full GR, we follow the complete dynamics as the small BH consumes the NS from within. Using numerical simulations, we examine the time scale for the NS to collapse into the PBH and show that essentially nothing remains behind. As a result, and in contradiction to other claims in the literature, we conclude that thisis an unlikely site for ejecta and nucleosynthesis, at least in spherical symmetry.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy



Date Submitted


Document Type





black holes, neutron stars, gravitational waves, modified theories of gravity, smoothed particle hydrodynamics, wavelet representation, nucleosynthesis