skip to main content


Title: The Binary Black Hole Spin Distribution Likely Broadens with Redshift
Abstract

The population-level distributions of the masses, spins, and redshifts of binary black holes (BBHs) observed using gravitational waves can shed light on how these systems form and evolve. Because of the complex astrophysical processes shaping the inferred BBH population, models allowing for correlations among these parameters will be necessary to fully characterize these sources. We hierarchically analyze the BBH population detected by LIGO and Virgo with a model allowing for correlations between the effective aligned spin and the primary mass and redshift. We find that the width of the effective spin distribution grows with redshift at 98.6% credibility. We determine this trend to be robust under the application of several alternative models and additionally verify that such a correlation is unlikely to be spuriously introduced using a simulated population. We discuss the possibility that this correlation could be due to a change in the natal black hole spin distribution with redshift.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2045740
NSF-PAR ID:
10484896
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume:
932
Issue:
2
ISSN:
2041-8205
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: Article No. L19
Size(s):
["Article No. L19"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We introduce the first complete nonparametric model for the astrophysical distribution of the binary black hole (BBH) population. Constructed from basis splines, we use these models to conduct the most comprehensive data-driven investigation of the BBH population to date, simultaneously fitting nonparametric models for the BBH mass ratio, spin magnitude and misalignment, and redshift distributions. With GWTC-3, we report the same features previously recovered with similarly flexible models of the mass distribution, most notably the peaks in merger rates at primary masses of ∼10Mand ∼35M. Our model reports a suppressed merger rate at low primary masses and a mass-ratio distribution consistent with a power law. We infer a distribution for primary spin misalignments that peaks away from alignment, supporting conclusions of recent work. We find broad agreement with the previous inferences of the spin magnitude distribution: the majority of BBH spins are small (a< 0.5), the distribution peaks ata∼ 0.2, and there is mild support for a nonspinning subpopulation, which may be resolved with larger catalogs. With a modulated power law describing the BBH merger rate’s evolution in redshift, we see hints of the rate evolution either flattening or decreasing atz∼ 0.2–0.5, but the full distribution remains entirely consistent with a monotonically increasing power law. We conclude with a discussion of the astrophysical context of our new findings and how nonparametric methods in gravitational-wave population inference are uniquely poised to complement to the parametric approach as we enter the data-rich era of gravitational-wave astronomy.

     
    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT

    The mass, spin, and merger rate distribution of the binary black holes (BBHs) across cosmic redshifts provide a unique way to shed light on their formation channel. Along with the redshift dependence of the BBH merger rate, the mass distribution of BBHs can also exhibit redshift dependence due to different formation channels and dependence on the metallicity of the parent stars. We explore the redshift dependence of the BBH mass distribution jointly with the merger rate evolution from the third gravitational wave (GW) catalogue GWTC-3 of the LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA collaboration. We study possible connections between peak-like features in the mass spectrum of BBHs and processes related to supernovae physics and time delay distributions. We obtain a preference for short-time delays between star formation and BBH mergers. Using a power-law form for the time delay distribution ($(t^{\rm min}_d)^{d}$), we find d < −0.7 credible at 90  per cent interval. The mass distribution of the BBHs could be fitted with a power-law form with a redshift-dependent peak feature that can be linked to the pair instability supernovae (PISN) mass-scale MPISN(Z*) at a stellar metallicity Z*. For a fiducial value of the stellar metallicity Z* = 10−4, we find the $\rm M_{\rm PISN}(Z_*)=44.4^{+7.9}_{-6.3}$$\rm M_\odot$. This is in accordance with the theoretical prediction of the lower edge of the PISN mass-scale and differs from previous analyses. Although we find a strong dependence of the PISN value on metallicity, the model that we explored is not strongly favoured over those that do not account for metallicity as the Bayes factors are inconclusive. In the future with more data, evidence towards metallicity dependence of the PISN will have a significant impact on our understanding of stellar physics.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Gravitational-wave detectors are starting to reveal the redshift evolution of the binary black hole (BBH) merger rate,RBBH(z). We make predictions forRBBH(z) as a function of black hole mass for systems originating from isolated binaries. To this end, we investigate correlations between the delay time and black hole mass by means of the suite of binary population synthesis simulations,COMPAS. We distinguish two channels: the common envelope (CE), and the stable Roche-lobe overflow (RLOF) channel, characterized by whether the system has experienced a common envelope or not. We find that the CE channel preferentially produces BHs with masses below about 30Mand short delay times (tdelay≲ 1 Gyr), while the stable RLOF channel primarily forms systems with BH masses above 30Mand long delay times (tdelay≳ 1 Gyr). We provide a new fit for the metallicity-dependent specific star formation rate density based on the Illustris TNG simulations, and use this to convert the delay time distributions into a prediction ofRBBH(z). This leads to a distinct redshift evolution ofRBBH(z) for high and low primary BH masses. We furthermore find that, at high redshift,RBBH(z) is dominated by the CE channel, while at low redshift, it contains a large contribution (∼40%) from the stable RLOF channel. Our results predict that, for increasing redshifts, BBHs with component masses above 30Mwill become increasingly scarce relative to less massive BBH systems. Evidence of this distinct evolution ofRBBH(z) for different BH masses can be tested with future detectors.

     
    more » « less
  4. 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 pathway 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. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract It has been proposed that some black holes (BHs) in binary black hole (BBH) systems are born from “hierarchical mergers” (HMs), i.e., earlier mergers of smaller BHs. These HM products have spin magnitudes χ ∼ 0.7, and, if they are dynamically assembled into BBH systems, their spin orientations will sometimes be antialigned with the binary orbital angular momentum. In fact, as Baibhav et al. showed, ∼16% of BBH systems that include HM products will have an effective inspiral spin parameter, χ eff < −0.3. Nevertheless, the LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA (LVK) gravitational-wave (GW) detectors have yet to observe a BBH system with χ eff ≲ −0.2, leading to upper limits on the fraction of HM products in the population. We fit the astrophysical mass and spin distribution of BBH systems and measure the fraction of BBH systems with χ eff < −0.3, which implies an upper limit on the HM fraction. We find that fewer than 26% of systems in the underlying BBH population include HM products (90% credibility). Even among BBH systems with primary masses m 1 = 60 M ⊙ , the HM fraction is less than 69%, which may constrain the location of the pair-instability mass gap. With 300 GW events (to be expected in the LVK’s next observing run), if we fail to observe a BBH with χ eff < −0.3, we can conclude that the HM fraction is smaller than 2.5 − 2.2 + 9.1 % . 
    more » « less