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Title: Do High-spin High-mass X-Ray Binaries Contribute to the Population of Merging Binary Black Holes?

Gravitational-wave observations of binary black hole (BBH) systems point to black hole spin magnitudes being relatively low. These measurements appear in tension with high spin measurements for high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs). We use grids of MESA simulations combined with the rapid population-synthesis code COSMIC to examine the origin of these two binary populations. It has been suggested that Case-A mass transfer while both stars are on the main sequence can form high-spin BHs in HMXBs. Assuming this formation channel, we show that depending on the critical mass ratios for the stability of mass transfer, 48%–100% of these Case-A HMXBs merge during the common-envelope phase and up to 42% result in binaries too wide to merge within a Hubble time. Both MESA and COSMIC show that high-spin HMXBs formed through Case-A mass transfer can only form merging BBHs within a small parameter space where mass transfer can lead to enough orbital shrinkage to merge within a Hubble time. We find that only up to 11% of these Case-A HMXBs result in BBH mergers, and at most 20% of BBH mergers came from Case-A HMXBs. Therefore, it is not surprising that these two spin distributions are observed to be different.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
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Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Medium: X Size: Article No. L19
Article No. L19
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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