skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Farah, Amanda"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    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.

    more » « less
  2. An advanced LIGO and Virgo’s third observing run brought another binary neutron star merger (BNS) and the first neutron-star black hole mergers. While no confirmed kilonovae were identified in conjunction with any of these events, continued improvements of analyses surrounding GW170817 allow us to project constraints on the Hubble Constant (H0), the Galactic enrichment fromr-process nucleosynthesis, and ultra-dense matter possible from forthcoming events. Here, we describe the expected constraints based on the latest expected event rates from the international gravitational-wave network and analyses of GW170817. We show the expected detection rate of gravitational waves and their counterparts, as well as how sensitive potential constraints are to the observed numbers of counterparts. We intend this analysis as support for the community when creating scientifically driven electromagnetic follow-up proposals. During the next observing run O4, we predict an annual detection rate of electromagnetic counterparts from BNS of0.430.26+0.58(1.971.2+2.68) for the Zwicky Transient Facility (Rubin Observatory).

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 21, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Several features in the mass spectrum of merging binary black holes (BBHs) have been identified using data from the Third Gravitational Wave Transient Catalog (GWTC-3). These features are of particular interest as they may encode the uncertain mechanism of BBH formation. We assess if the features are statistically significant or the result of Poisson noise due to the finite number of observed events. We simulate catalogs of BBHs whose underlying distribution does not have the features of interest, apply the analysis previously performed on GWTC-3, and determine how often such features are spuriously found. We find that one of the features found in GWTC-3, the peak at ∼35M, cannot be explained by Poisson noise alone: peaks as significant occur in 1.7% of catalogs generated from a featureless population. This peak is therefore likely to be of astrophysical origin. The data is suggestive of an additional significant peak at ∼10M, though the exact location of this feature is not resolvable with current observations. Additional structure beyond a power law, such as the purported dip at ∼14M, can be explained by Poisson noise. We also provide a publicly available package,GWMockCat, that creates simulated catalogs of BBH events with correlated measurement uncertainty and selection effects according to user-specified underlying distributions and detector sensitivities.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We search for features in the mass distribution of detected compact binary coalescences which signify the transition between neutron stars (NSs) and black holes (BHs). We analyze all gravitational-wave (GW) detections by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the Virgo Collaboration, and the KAGRA Collaboration (LVK) made through the end of the first half of the third observing run, and find clear evidence for two different populations of compact objects based solely on GW data. We confidently (99.3%) find a steepening relative to a single power law describing NSs and low-mass BHs below2.40.5+0.5M, which is consistent with many predictions for the maximum NS mass. We find suggestions of the purported lower mass gap between the most massive NSs and the least massive BHs, but are unable to conclusively resolve it with current data. If it exists, we find the lower mass gap’s edges to lie at2.20.5+0.7Mand6.01.4+2.4M. We reexamine events that have been deemed “exceptional” by the LVK collaborations in the context of these features. We analyze GW190814 self-consistently in the context of the full population of compact binaries, finding support for its secondary to be either a NS or a lower mass gap object, consistent with previous claims. Our models are the first to accommodate this event, which is an outlier with respect to the binary BH population. We find that GW200105 and GW200115 probe the edges of, and may have components within, the lower mass gap. As future data improve global population models, the classification of these events will also improve.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    As catalogs of gravitational-wave transients grow, new records are set for the most extreme systems observed to date. The most massive observed black holes probe the physics of pair-instability supernovae while providing clues about the environments in which binary black hole systems are assembled. The least massive black holes, meanwhile, allow us to investigate the purported neutron star–black hole mass gap, and binaries with unusually asymmetric mass ratios or large spins inform our understanding of binary and stellar evolution. Existing outlier tests generally implement leave-one-out analyses, but these do not account for the fact that the event being left out was by definition an extreme member of the population. This results in a bias in the evaluation of outliers. We correct for this bias by introducing a coarse-graining framework to investigate whether these extremal events are true outliers or whether they are consistent with the rest of the observed population. Our method enables us to study extremal events while testing for population model misspecification. We show that this ameliorates biases present in the leave-one-out analyses commonly used within the gravitational-wave community. Applying our method to results from the second LIGO–Virgo transient catalog, we find qualitative agreement with the conclusions of Abbott et al. GW190814 is an outlier because of its small secondary mass. We find that neither GW190412 nor GW190521 is an outlier.

    more » « less