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During the inspiral and merger of black holes, the interaction of gravitational wave multipoles carries linear momentum away, thereby providing an astrophysically important recoil, or “kick” to the system and to the final black hole remnant. It has been found that linear momentum during the last stage (quasinormal ringing) of the collapse tends to provide an “antikick” that in some cases cancels almost all the kick from the earlier (quasicircular inspiral) emission. We show here that this cancellation is not due to peculiarities of gravitational waves, black holes, or interacting multipoles, but simply to the fact that the rotating flux of momentum changes its intensity slowly. We show furthermore that an understanding of the systematics of the emission allows good estimates of the net kick for numerical simulations started at fairly late times, and is useful for understanding qualitatively what kinds of systems provide large and small net kicks.


© 2011 American Physical Society. Original published version available at

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Physical Review D





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