Document Type


Publication Date



This work establishes a relation between chiral anomalies in curved spacetimes and the radiative content of the gravitational field. In particular, we show that a flux of circularly polarized gravitational waves triggers the spontaneous creation of photons with net circular polarization from the quantum vacuum. Using waveform catalogs, we identify precessing binary black holes as astrophysical configurations that emit such gravitational radiation and then solve the fully nonlinear Einstein's equations with numerical relativity to evaluate the net effect. The quantum amplitude for a merger is comparable to the Hawking emission rate of the final black hole and small to be directly observed. However, the implications for the inspiral of binary neutron stars could be more prominent, as argued on symmetry grounds.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Physical Review Letters