We formulate and calculate the second order quasi-normal modes (QNMs) of a Schwarzschild black hole (BH). Gravitational wave (GW) from a distorted BH, so called ringdown, is well understood as QNMs in general relativity. Since QNMs from binary BH mergers will be detected with high signal-to-noise ratio by GW detectors, it is also possible to detect the second perturbative order of QNMs, generated by nonlinear gravitational interaction near the BH. In the BH perturbation approach, we derive the master Zerilli equation for the metric perturbation to second order and explicitly regularize it at the horizon and spatial infinity. We numerically solve the second order Zerilli equation by implementing the modified Leaver’s continued fraction method. The second order QNM frequencies are found to be twice the first order ones, and the GW amplitude is up to ∼ 10% that of the first order for the binary BH mergers. Since the second order QNMs always exist, we can use their detections (i) to test the nonlinearity of general relativity, in particular the no-hair theorem, (ii) to remove fake events in the data analysis of QNM GWs and (iii) to measure the distance to the BH.

Publication Date



This is the pre-print of an article published by the American Physical Society. The final, published version of this paper is available here: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.76.084007

©2007 American Physical Society

Also archived in arXiv:0708.0450 v1 Aug 3, 2007

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus