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We present numerical results from three-dimensional evolutions of scalar perturbations of Kerr black holes. Our simulations make use of a high-order accurate multiblock code which naturally allows for adapted grids and smooth inner (excision) and outer boundaries. We focus on the quasinormal ringing phase, presenting a systematic method for extraction of the quasinormal mode frequencies and amplitudes and comparing our results against perturbation theory. The detection of a single mode in a ringdown waveform allows for a measurement of the mass and spin of a black hole; a multimode detection would allow a test of the Kerr nature of the source. Since the possibility of a multimode detection depends on the relative mode amplitude, we study this topic in some detail. The amplitude of each mode depends exponentially on the starting time of the quasinormal regime, which is not defined unambiguously. We show that this time-shift problem can be circumvented by looking at appropriately chosen relative mode amplitudes. From our simulations we extract the quasinormal frequencies and the relative and absolute amplitudes of corotating and counterrotating modes (including overtones in the corotating case). We study the dependence of these amplitudes on the shape of the initial perturbation, the angular dependence of the mode, and the black hole spin, comparing against results from perturbation theory in the so-called asymptotic approximation. We also compare the quasinormal frequencies from our numerical simulations with predictions from perturbation theory, finding excellent agreement. For rapidly rotating black holes (of spin j=0.98) we can extract the quasinormal frequencies of not only the fundamental mode, but also of the first two overtones. Finally we study under what conditions the relative amplitude between given pairs of modes gets maximally excited and present a quantitative analysis of rotational mode-mode coupling. The main conclusions and techniques of our analysis are quite general and, as such, should be of interest in the study of ringdown gravitational waves produced by astrophysical gravitational wave sources. © 2006 The American Physical Society.

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Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology