skip to main content

Title: Probing Extremal Gravitational-wave Events with Coarse-grained Likelihoods
Abstract

As catalogs of gravitational-wave transients grow, new records are set for the most extreme systems observed to date. The most massive observed black holes probe the physics of pair-instability supernovae while providing clues about the environments in which binary black hole systems are assembled. The least massive black holes, meanwhile, allow us to investigate the purported neutron star–black hole mass gap, and binaries with unusually asymmetric mass ratios or large spins inform our understanding of binary and stellar evolution. Existing outlier tests generally implement leave-one-out analyses, but these do not account for the fact that the event being left out was by definition an extreme member of the population. This results in a bias in the evaluation of outliers. We correct for this bias by introducing a coarse-graining framework to investigate whether these extremal events are true outliers or whether they are consistent with the rest of the observed population. Our method enables us to study extremal events while testing for population model misspecification. We show that this ameliorates biases present in the leave-one-out analyses commonly used within the gravitational-wave community. Applying our method to results from the second LIGO–Virgo transient catalog, we find qualitative agreement with the conclusions more » of Abbott et al. GW190814 is an outlier because of its small secondary mass. We find that neither GW190412 nor GW190521 is an outlier.

« less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2110507
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10362562
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
926
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 34
ISSN:
0004-637X
Publisher:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The component black holes (BHs) observed in gravitational-wave (GW) binary black hole (BBH) events tend to be more massive and slower spinning than those observed in black hole X-ray binaries (BH-XRBs). Without modeling their evolutionary histories, we investigate whether these apparent tensions in the BH populations can be explained by GW observational selection effects alone. We find that this is indeed the case for the discrepancy between BH masses in BBHs and the observed high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs), when we account for statistical uncertainty from the small sample size of just three HMXBs. On the other hand, the BHs in observed low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) are significantly lighter than the astrophysical BBH population, but this may just be due to a correlation between component masses in a binary system. Given their light stellar companions, we expect light BHs in LMXBs. The observed spins in HMXBs and LMXBs, however, are in tension with the inferred BBH spin distribution at the >99.9% level. We discuss possible scenarios behind the significantly larger spins in observed BH-XRBs. One possibility is that a small subpopulation (conservatively <30%) of BBHs have rapidly spinning primary components, indicating that they may have followed a similar evolutionary pathwaymore »to the observed HMXBs. In LMXBs, it has been suggested that BHs can spin up by accretion. If LMXB natal spins follow the BBH spin distribution, we find LMXBs must gain an average dimensionless spin of 0.47 − 0.11 + 0.10 , but if their natal spins follow the observed HMXB spins, the average spin-up must be <0.03.« less
  2. Long-duration gamma-ray bursts are thought to be associated with the core-collapse of massive, rapidly spinning stars and the formation of black holes. However, efficient angular momentum transport in stellar interiors, currently supported by asteroseismic and gravitational-wave constraints, leads to predominantly slowly-spinning stellar cores. Here, we report on binary stellar evolution and population synthesis calculations, showing that tidal interactions in close binaries not only can explain the observed subpopulation of spinning, merging binary black holes but also lead to long gamma-ray bursts at the time of black-hole formation. Given our model calibration against the distribution of isotropic-equivalent energies of luminous long gamma-ray bursts, we find that ≈10% of the GWTC-2 reported binary black holes had a luminous long gamma-ray burst associated with their formation, with GW190517 and GW190719 having a probability of ≈85% and ≈60%, respectively, being among them. Moreover, given an assumption about their average beaming fraction, our model predicts the rate density of long gamma-ray bursts, as a function of redshift, originating from this channel. For a constant beaming fraction f B  ∼ 0.05 our model predicts a rate density comparable to the observed one, throughout the redshift range, while, at redshift z  ∈ [0, 2.5], a tentative comparison with the metallicitymore »distribution of observed LGRB host galaxies implies that between 20% to 85% of the observed long gamma-ray bursts may originate from progenitors of merging binary black holes. The proposed link between a potentially significant fraction of observed, luminous long gamma-ray bursts and the progenitors of spinning binary black-hole mergers allows us to probe the latter well outside the horizon of current-generation gravitational wave observatories, and out to cosmological distances.« less
  3. Abstract We search for features in the mass distribution of detected compact binary coalescences which signify the transition between neutron stars (NSs) and black holes (BHs). We analyze all gravitational-wave (GW) detections by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the Virgo Collaboration, and the KAGRA Collaboration (LVK) made through the end of the first half of the third observing run, and find clear evidence for two different populations of compact objects based solely on GW data. We confidently (99.3%) find a steepening relative to a single power law describing NSs and low-mass BHs below 2.4 − 0.5 + 0.5 M ⊙ , which is consistent with many predictions for the maximum NS mass. We find suggestions of the purported lower mass gap between the most massive NSs and the least massive BHs, but are unable to conclusively resolve it with current data. If it exists, we find the lower mass gap’s edges to lie at 2.2 − 0.5 + 0.7 M ⊙ and 6.0 − 1.4 + 2.4 M ⊙ . We reexamine events that have been deemed “exceptional” by the LVK collaborations in the context of these features. We analyze GW190814 self-consistently in the context of the full population of compactmore »binaries, finding support for its secondary to be either a NS or a lower mass gap object, consistent with previous claims. Our models are the first to accommodate this event, which is an outlier with respect to the binary BH population. We find that GW200105 and GW200115 probe the edges of, and may have components within, the lower mass gap. As future data improve global population models, the classification of these events will also improve.« less
  4. ABSTRACT

    Neutron star–black hole (NSBH) mergers detected in gravitational waves have the potential to shed light on supernova physics, the dense matter equation of state, and the astrophysical processes that power their potential electromagnetic counterparts. We use the population of four candidate NSBH events detected in gravitational waves so far with a false alarm rate ≤1 yr−1 to constrain the mass and spin distributions and multimessenger prospects of these systems. We find that the black holes in NSBHs are both less massive and have smaller dimensionless spins than those in black hole binaries. We also find evidence for a mass gap between the most massive neutron stars and least massive black holes in NSBHs at 98.6-per cent credibility. Using an approach driven by gravitational-wave data rather than binary simulations, we find that fewer than 14 per cent of NSBH mergers detectable in gravitational waves will have an electromagnetic counterpart. While the inferred presence of a mass gap and fraction of sources with a counterpart depend on the event selection and prior knowledge of source classification, the conclusion that the black holes in NSBHs have lower masses and smaller spin parameters than those in black hole binaries is robust. Finally, we propose a method for themore »multimessenger analysis of NSBH mergers based on the non-detection of an electromagnetic counterpart and conclude that, even in the most optimistic case, the constraints on the neutron star equation of state that can be obtained with multimessenger NSBH detections are not competitive with those from gravitational-wave measurements of tides in binary neutron star mergers and radio and X-ray pulsar observations.

    « less
  5. ABSTRACT

    Making the most of the rapidly increasing population of gravitational-wave detections of black hole (BH) and neutron star (NS) mergers requires comparing observations with population synthesis predictions. In this work, we investigate the combined impact from the key uncertainties in population synthesis modelling of the isolated binary evolution channel: the physical processes in massive binary-star evolution and the star formation history as a function of metallicity, Z, and redshift z, $\mathcal {S}(Z,z)$. Considering these uncertainties, we create 560 different publicly available model realizations and calculate the rate and distribution characteristics of detectable BHBH, BHNS, and NSNS mergers. We find that our stellar evolution and $\mathcal {S}(Z,z)$ variations can combined impact the predicted intrinsic and detectable merger rates by factors in the range 102–104. We find that BHBH rates are dominantly impacted by $\mathcal {S}(Z,z)$ variations, NSNS rates by stellar evolution variations and BHNS rates by both. We then consider the combined impact from all uncertainties considered in this work on the detectable mass distribution shapes (chirp mass, individual masses, and mass ratio). We find that the BHNS mass distributions are predominantly impacted by massive binary-star evolution changes. For BHBH and NSNS, we find that both uncertainties are important. Wemore »also find that the shape of the delay time and birth metallicity distributions are typically dominated by the choice of $\mathcal {S}(Z,z)$ for BHBH, BHNS, and NSNS. We identify several examples of robust features in the mass distributions predicted by all 560 models, such that we expect more than 95 per cent of BHBH detections to contain a BH $\gtrsim 8\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$ and have mass ratios ≲ 4. Our work demonstrates that it is essential to consider a wide range of allowed models to study double compact object merger rates and properties. Conversely, larger observed samples could allow us to decipher currently unconstrained stages of stellar and binary evolution.

    « less