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Title: Two of a Kind: Comparing Big and Small Black Holes in Binaries with Gravitational Waves

When modeling the population of merging binary black holes, analyses have generally focused on characterizing the distribution of primary (i.e., more massive) black holes in the binary, while using simplistic prescriptions for the distribution of secondary masses. However, the secondary mass distribution and its relationship to the primary mass distribution provide a fundamental observational constraint on the formation history of coalescing binary black holes. If both black holes experience similar stellar evolutionary processes prior to collapse, as might be expected in dynamical formation channels, the primary and secondary mass distributions would show similar features. If they follow distinct evolutionary pathways (for example, due to binary interactions that break symmetry between the initially more massive and less massive stars), their mass distributions may differ. We present the first analysis of the binary black hole population that explicitly fits for the secondary mass distribution. We find that the data is consistent with a ∼30Mpeak existing only in the distribution of secondary rather than primary masses. This would have major implications for our understanding of the formation of these binaries. Alternatively, the data is consistent with the peak existing in both component mass distributions, a possibility not included in most previous studies. In either case, the peak is observed at31.42.6+2.3M, which is shifted lower than the value obtained in previous analyses of the marginal primary mass distribution, placing this feature in further tension with expectations from a pulsational pair-instability supernova pileup.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 69
["Article No. 69"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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