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  1. Abstract

    The astrophysical origin of over 90 compact binary mergers discovered by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories is an open question. While the unusual mass and spin of some of the discovered objects constrain progenitor scenarios, the observed mergers are consistent with multiple interpretations. A promising approach to solve this question is to consider the observed distributions of binary properties and compare them to expectations from different origin scenarios. Here we describe a new hierarchical population analysis framework to assess the relative contribution of different formation channels simultaneously. For this study we considered binary formation in active galactic nucleus (AGN) disks along with phenomenological models, but the same framework can be extended to other models. We find that high-mass and high-mass-ratio binaries appear more likely to have an AGN origin compared to having the same origin as lower-mass events. Future observations of high-mass black hole mergers could further disentangle the AGN component from other channels.

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  2. Abstract

    GW190521 was the most massive black hole merger discovered by LIGO/Virgo so far, with masses in tension with stellar evolution models. A possible explanation of such heavy black holes is that they themselves are the remnants of previous mergers of lighter black holes. Here we estimate the masses of the ancestral black holes of GW190521, assuming it is the end product of previous mergers. We find that the heaviest parental black holes has a mass of5618+20M(90% credible level). We find 70% probability that it is in the 50M–120Mmass gap, indicating that it may also be the end product of a previous merger. We therefore also compute the expected mass distributions of the “grandparent” black holes of GW190521, assuming they existed. Ancestral black hole masses could represent an additional puzzle piece in identifying the origin of LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA’s heaviest black holes.

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  3. Abstract The heaviest elements in the universe are synthesized through rapid neutron capture ( r -process) in extremely neutron-rich outflows. Neutron star mergers were established as an important r -process source through the multimessenger observation of GW170817. Collapsars were also proposed as a potentially major source of heavy elements; however, this is difficult to probe through optical observations due to contamination by other emission mechanisms. Here we present observational constraints on r -process nucleosynthesis by collapsars based on radio follow-up observations of nearby long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). We make the hypothesis that late-time radio emission arises from the collapsar wind ejecta responsible for forging r -process elements, and consider the constraints that can be set on this scenario using radio observations of a sample of Swift/Burst Alert Telescope GRBs located within 2 Gpc. No radio counterpart was identified in excess of the radio afterglow of the GRBs in our sample. This gives the strictest limit to the collapsar r -process contribution of ≲0.2 M ⊙ for GRB 060505 and GRB 05826, under the models we considered. Our results additionally constrain energy injection by a long-lived neutron star remnant in some of the considered GRBs. While our results are in tension with collapsars being the majority of r -process production sites, the ejecta mass and velocity profile of collapsar winds, and the emission parameters, are not yet well modeled. As such, our results are currently subject to large uncertainties, but further theoretical work could greatly improve them. 
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  4. Abstract Active galactic nuclei (AGNs) can funnel stars and stellar remnants from the vicinity of the galactic center into the inner plane of the AGN disk. Stars reaching this inner region can be tidally disrupted by the stellar-mass black holes in the disk. Such micro tidal disruption events (micro-TDEs) could be a useful probe of stellar interaction with the AGN disk. We find that micro-TDEs in AGNs occur at a rate of ∼170 Gpc −3 yr −1 . Their cleanest observational probe may be the electromagnetic detection of tidal disruption in AGNs by heavy supermassive black holes ( M • ≳ 10 8 M ⊙ ) that cannot tidally disrupt solar-type stars. The reconstructed rate of such events from observations, nonetheless, appears to be much lower than our estimated micro-TDE rate. We discuss two such micro-TDE candidates observed to date (ASASSN-15lh and ZTF19aailpwl). 
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  5. null (Ed.)