skip to main content

Title: Probing the progenitors of spinning binary black-hole mergers with long gamma-ray bursts
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 metallicity more » 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
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Long gamma-ray bursts are associated with the core-collapse of massive, rapidly spinning stars. However, the believed efficient angular momentum transport in stellar interiors 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 sub-population of spinning, merging binary black holes, but also lead to long gamma-ray bursts at the time of black-hole formation, with rates matching the empirical ones. We find that ≈10% of the GWTC-2 reported binary black holes had a long gamma-ray burst associated with their formation, with GW190517 and GW190719 having a probability of ≈85% and ≈60%, respectively, being among them.
  2. Abstract

    The core collapse of rapidly rotating massive ∼ 10Mstars (“collapsars”), and the resulting formation of hyperaccreting black holes, comprise a leading model for the central engines of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and promising sources ofr-process nucleosynthesis. Here, we explore the signatures of collapsars from progenitors with helium cores ≳ 130Mabove the pair-instability mass gap. While the rapid collapse to a black hole likely precludes prompt explosions in these systems, we demonstrate that disk outflows can generate a large quantity (up to ≳ 50M) of ejecta, comprised of ≳ 5–10Minr-process elements and ∼ 0.1–1Mof56Ni, expanding at velocities ∼0.1 c. Radioactive heating of the disk wind ejecta powers an optical/IR transient, with a characteristic luminosity ∼ 1042erg s−1and a spectral peak in the near-IR (due to the high optical/UV opacities of lanthanide elements), similar to kilonovae from neutron star mergers, but with longer durations ≳1 month. These “super-kilonovae” (superKNe) herald the birth of massive black holes ≳ 60M, which—as a result of disk wind mass loss—can populate the pair-instability mass gap “from above,” and could potentially create the binary components of GW190521. SuperKNe could be discovered via wide-field surveys, such as those planned with the Roman Space Telescope, or via late-timemore »IR follow-up observations of extremely energetic GRBs. Multiband gravitational waves of ∼ 0.1–50 Hz from nonaxisymmetric instabilities in self-gravitating massive collapsar disks are potentially detectable by proposed observatories out to hundreds of Mpc; in contrast to the “chirp” from binary mergers, the collapsar gravitational-wave signal decreases in frequency as the disk radius grows (“sad trombone”).

    « less
  3. Abstract

    We present the stellar population properties of 69 short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies, representing the largest uniformly modeled sample to date. Using theProspectorstellar population inference code, we jointly fit photometry and/or spectroscopy of each host galaxy. We find a population median redshift ofz=0.640.32+0.83(68% confidence), including nine photometric redshifts atz≳ 1. We further find a median mass-weighted age oftm=0.80.53+2.71Gyr, stellar mass of log(M*/M) =9.690.65+0.75, star formation rate of SFR =1.441.35+9.37Myr−1, stellar metallicity of log(Z*/Z) =0.380.42+0.44, and dust attenuation ofAV=0.430.36+0.85mag (68% confidence). Overall, the majority of short GRB hosts are star-forming (≈84%), with small fractions that are either transitioning (≈6%) or quiescent (≈10%); however, we observe a much larger fraction (≈40%) of quiescent and transitioning hosts atz≲ 0.25, commensurate with galaxy evolution. We find that short GRB hosts populate the star-forming main sequence of normal field galaxies, but do not include as many high-mass galaxies as the general galaxy population, implying that their binary neutron star (BNS) merger progenitors are dependent on a combination of host star formation and stellar mass. The distribution of ages and redshifts implies a broad delay-time distribution,more »with a fast-merging channel atz> 1 and a decreased neutron star binary formation efficiency from high to low redshifts. If short GRB hosts are representative of BNS merger hosts within the horizon of current gravitational wave detectors, these results can inform future searches for electromagnetic counterparts. All of the data and modeling products are available on the Broadband Repository for Investigating Gamma-ray burst Host Traits website.

    « less
  4. We present a detailed follow-up of the very energetic GRB 210905A at a high redshift of z  = 6.312 and its luminous X-ray and optical afterglow. Following the detection by Swift and Konus- Wind , we obtained a photometric and spectroscopic follow-up in the optical and near-infrared (NIR), covering both the prompt and afterglow emission from a few minutes up to 20 Ms after burst. With an isotropic gamma-ray energy release of E iso = 1.27 −0.19 +0.20 × 10 54 erg, GRB 210905A lies in the top ∼7% of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) in the Konus- Wind catalogue in terms of energy released. Its afterglow is among the most luminous ever observed, and, in particular, it is one of the most luminous in the optical at t  ≳ 0.5 d in the rest frame. The afterglow starts with a shallow evolution that can be explained by energy injection, and it is followed by a steeper decay, while the spectral energy distribution is in agreement with slow cooling in a constant-density environment within the standard fireball theory. A jet break at ∼46.2 ± 16.3 d (6.3 ± 2.2 d rest-frame) has been observed in the X-ray light curve; however, it is hidden in the H band duemore »to a constant contribution from the host galaxy and potentially from a foreground intervening galaxy. In particular, the host galaxy is only the fourth GRB host at z  > 6 known to date. By assuming a number density n  = 1 cm −3 and an efficiency η  = 0.2, we derived a half-opening angle of 8.4 ° ±1.0°, which is the highest ever measured for a z  ≳ 6 burst, but within the range covered by closer events. The resulting collimation-corrected gamma-ray energy release of ≃1 × 10 52 erg is also among the highest ever measured. The moderately large half-opening angle argues against recent claims of an inverse dependence of the half-opening angle on the redshift. The total jet energy is likely too large to be sustained by a standard magnetar, and it suggests that the central engine of this burst was a newly formed black hole. Despite the outstanding energetics and luminosity of both GRB 210905A and its afterglow, we demonstrate that they are consistent within 2 σ with those of less distant bursts, indicating that the powering mechanisms and progenitors do not evolve significantly with redshift.« less
  5. 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