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Gravitational waves and the neutron-star equation of state

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The uncertainty in the equation of state of cold matter above nuclear density is notorious. Despite four decades of neutron-star observations, recent observational estimates of neutron-star radii still range from 8 to 16 km; the pressure above nuclear density is not known to better than a factor of 5; and one cannot yet rule out the possibility that the ground state of cold matter at zero pressure might be strange quark matter -- that the term "neutron star" is a misnomer for strange quark stars.

The last few orbits of binary inspiral are sensitive to the stars' distortion, and a major goal of the next generation of gravitational wave detectors is to extract parameters characterizing the high-density equation of state from inspiral waveforms. This talk reports a first study that uses numerical simulations to estimate the accuracy with which the equation of state can be measured.