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  1. Abstract

    Compact-object binary mergers consisting of one neutron star and one black hole (NSBHs) have long been considered promising progenitors for gamma-ray bursts, whose central engine remains poorly understood. Using gravitational-wave constraints on the population-level NSBH mass and spin distributions we find that at most 20 Gpc−3 yr−1of gamma-ray bursts in the local universe can have NSBH progenitors.

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  2. Abstract

    Compact-object binaries including a white dwarf component are unique among gravitational-wave sources because their evolution is governed not just by general relativity and tides, but also by mass transfer. While the black hole and neutron star binaries observed with ground-based gravitational-wave detectors are driven to inspiral due to the emission of gravitational radiation—manifesting as a “chirp-like” gravitational-wave signal—the astrophysical processes at work in double white dwarf (DWD) systems can cause the inspiral to stall and even reverse into an outspiral. The dynamics of the DWD outspiral thus encode information about tides, which tell us about the behavior of electron-degenerate matter. We carry out a population study to determine the effect of the strength of tides on the distributions of the DWD binary parameters that the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be able to constrain. We find that the strength of tidal coupling parameterized via the tidal synchronization timescale at the onset of mass transfer affects the distribution of gravitational-wave frequencies and frequency derivatives for detectably mass-transferring DWD systems. Using a hierarchical Bayesian framework informed by binary population synthesis simulations, we demonstrate how this parameter can be inferred using LISA observations. By measuring the population properties of DWDs, LISA will be able to probe the behavior of electron-degenerate matter.

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  3. Context. The growing set of gravitational-wave sources is being used to measure the properties of the underlying astrophysical populations of compact objects, black holes, and neutron stars. Most of the detected systems are black hole binaries. While much has been learned about black holes by analyzing the latest LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) catalog, GWTC-3, a measurement of the astrophysical distribution of the black hole spin orientations remains elusive. This is usually probed by measuring the cosine of the tilt angle (cos τ ) between each black hole spin and the orbital angular momentum, with cos τ  = +1 being perfect alignment. Aims. The LVK Collaboration has modeled the cos τ distribution as a mixture of an isotropic component and a Gaussian component with mean fixed at +1 and width measured from the data. We want to verify if the data require the existence of such a peak at cos τ  = +1. Methods. We used various alternative models for the astrophysical tilt distribution and measured their parameters using the LVK GWTC-3 catalog. Results. We find that (a) augmenting the LVK model, such that the mean μ of the Gaussian is not fixed at +1, returns results that strongly depend on priors. If we allow μ  >  +1, then the resulting astrophysical cos τ distribution peaks at +1 and looks linear, rather than Gaussian. If we constrain −1 ≤  μ  ≤ +1, the Gaussian component peaks at μ  = 0.48 −0.99 +0.46 (median and 90% symmetric credible interval). Two other two-component mixture models yield cos τ distributions that either have a broad peak centered at 0.19 −0.18 +0.22 or a plateau that spans the range [ − 0.5, +1], without a clear peak at +1. (b) All of the models we considered agree as to there being no excess of black hole tilts at around −1. (c) While yielding quite different posteriors, the models considered in this work have Bayesian evidences that are the same within error bars. Conclusions. We conclude that the current dataset is not sufficiently informative to draw any model-independent conclusions on the astrophysical distribution of spin tilts, except that there is no excess of spins with negatively aligned tilts. 
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    Neutron star–black hole (NSBH) mergers detected in gravitational waves have the potential to shed light on supernova physics, the dense matter equation of state, and the astrophysical processes that power their potential electromagnetic counterparts. We use the population of four candidate NSBH events detected in gravitational waves so far with a false alarm rate ≤1 yr−1 to constrain the mass and spin distributions and multimessenger prospects of these systems. We find that the black holes in NSBHs are both less massive and have smaller dimensionless spins than those in black hole binaries. We also find evidence for a mass gap between the most massive neutron stars and least massive black holes in NSBHs at 98.6-per cent credibility. Using an approach driven by gravitational-wave data rather than binary simulations, we find that fewer than 14 per cent of NSBH mergers detectable in gravitational waves will have an electromagnetic counterpart. While the inferred presence of a mass gap and fraction of sources with a counterpart depend on the event selection and prior knowledge of source classification, the conclusion that the black holes in NSBHs have lower masses and smaller spin parameters than those in black hole binaries is robust. Finally, we propose a method for the multimessenger analysis of NSBH mergers based on the non-detection of an electromagnetic counterpart and conclude that, even in the most optimistic case, the constraints on the neutron star equation of state that can be obtained with multimessenger NSBH detections are not competitive with those from gravitational-wave measurements of tides in binary neutron star mergers and radio and X-ray pulsar observations.

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  5. Abstract The collection of gravitational waves (GWs) that are either too weak or too numerous to be individually resolved is commonly referred to as the gravitational-wave background (GWB). A confident detection and model-driven characterization of such a signal will provide invaluable information about the evolution of the universe and the population of GW sources within it. We present a new, user-friendly, Python-based package for GW data analysis to search for an isotropic GWB in ground-based interferometer data. We employ cross-correlation spectra of GW detector pairs to construct an optimal estimator of the Gaussian and isotropic GWB, and Bayesian parameter estimation to constrain GWB models. The modularity and clarity of the code allow for both a shallow learning curve and flexibility in adjusting the analysis to one’s own needs. We describe the individual modules that make up pygwb , following the traditional steps of stochastic analyses carried out within the LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA Collaboration. We then describe the built-in pipeline that combines the different modules and validate it with both mock data and real GW data from the O3 Advanced LIGO and Virgo observing run. We successfully recover all mock data injections and reproduce published results. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. 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. 
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  7. Abstract

    The binary neutron star (BNS) mass distribution measured with gravitational-wave observations has the potential to reveal information about the dense matter equation of state, supernova physics, the expansion rate of the Universe, and tests of general relativity. As most current gravitational-wave analyses measuring the BNS mass distribution do not simultaneously fit the spin distribution, the implied population-level spin distribution is the same as the spin prior applied when analysing individual sources. In this work, we demonstrate that introducing a mismatch between the implied and true BNS spin distributions can lead to biases in the inferred mass distribution. This is due to the strong correlations between the measurements of the mass ratio and spin components aligned with the orbital angular momentum for individual sources. We find that applying a low-spin prior that excludes the true spin magnitudes of some sources in the population leads to significantly overestimating the maximum neutron star mass and underestimating the minimum neutron star mass at the population level with as few as six BNS detections. The safest choice of spin prior that does not lead to biases in the inferred mass distribution is one that allows for high spin magnitudes and tilts misaligned with the orbital angular momentum.

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  8. null (Ed.)