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 ∼30
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Abstract M _{⊙}peak 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 at , 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 pairinstability supernova pileup. ${31.4}_{2.6}^{+2.3}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{M}_{\odot}$ 
Abstract In their most recent observing run, the LIGOVirgoKAGRA Collaboration observed gravitational waves from compact binary mergers with highly asymmetric mass ratios, including both binary black holes (BBHs) and neutron starblack holes (NSBHs). It appears that NSBHs with mass ratios
q ≃ 0.2 are more common than equally asymmetric BBHs, but the reason for this remains unclear. We use the binary population synthesis codecosmic to investigate the evolutionary pathways leading to the formation and merger of asymmetric compact binaries. We find that within the context of isolated binary stellar evolution, most asymmetric mergers start off as asymmetric stellar binaries. Because of the initial asymmetry, these systems tend to first undergo a dynamically unstable mass transfer phase. However, after the first star collapses into a compact object, the mass ratio is close to unity and the second phase of mass transfer is usually stable. According to our simulations, this stable mass transfer fails to shrink the orbit enough on its own for the system to merge. Instead, the natal kick received by the secondborn compact object during its collapse is key in determining how many of these systems can merge. For the most asymmetric systems with mass ratios ofq ≤ 0.1, the merging systems in our models receive an average kick magnitude of 255 km s^{−1}during the second collapse, while the average kick for nonmerging systems is 59 km s^{−1}. Because lower mass compact objects, like neutron stars, are expected to receive larger natal kicks than higher mass BHs, this may explain why asymmetric NSBH systems merge more frequently than asymmetric BBH systems. 
ABSTRACT Globular clusters (GCs) are found in all types of galaxies and harbour some of the most extreme stellar systems, including black holes that may dynamically assemble into merging binary black holes (BBHs). Uncertain GC properties, including when they formed, their initial masses and sizes, affect their production rate of BBH mergers. Using the gravitationalwave transient catalogue (GWTC3), we measure that dynamically assembled BBHs – those that are consistent with isotropic spin directions – make up ${61^{+29}_{44}\%}$ of the total merger rate, with a local merger rate of ${10.9^{+16.8}_{9.3}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1 rising to ${58.9^{+149.4}_{46.0}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1 at z = 1. We assume that this inferred rate describes the contribution from GCs and compare it against the Cluster Monte Carlo (cmc) simulation catalogue to directly fit for the GC initial mass function, virial radius distribution, and formation history. We find that GC initial masses are consistent with a Schechter function with slope ${\beta _m = 1.9^{+0.8}_{0.8}}$ . Assuming a mass function slope of βm = −2 and a mass range between 104–$10^8\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot$ , we infer a GC formation rate at z = 2 of ${5.0^{+9.4}_{4.0}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1, or ${2.1^{+3.9}_{1.7}}\times 10^6\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot$ Gpc−3 yr−1 in terms of mass density. We find that the GC formation rate probably rises more steeply than the global star formation rate between z = 0 and z = 3 (82 per cent credibility) and implies a local number density that is ${f_\mathrm{ev} = 22.6^{+29.9}_{16.2}}$ times higher than the observed density of survived GCs. This is consistent with expectations for cluster evaporation, but may suggest that other environments contribute to the rate of BBH mergers with significantly tilted spins.

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 (GWTC3). 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 GWTC3, and determine how often such features are spuriously found. We find that one of the features found in GWTC3, the peak at ∼35
M _{☉}, 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 userspecified underlying distributions and detector sensitivities. 
Abstract Gravitationalwave (GW) detections of merging neutron star–black hole (NSBH) systems probe astrophysical neutron star (NS) and black hole (BH) mass distributions, especially at the transition between NS and BH masses. Of particular interest are the maximum NS mass, minimum BH mass, and potential mass gap between them. While previous GW population analyses assumed all NSs obey the same maximum mass, if rapidly spinning NSs exist, they can extend to larger maximum masses than nonspinning NSs. In fact, several authors have proposed that the ∼2.6
M _{⊙}object in the event GW190814—either the most massive NS or least massive BH observed to date—is a rapidly spinning NS. We therefore infer the NSBH mass distribution jointly with the NS spin distribution, modeling the NS maximum mass as a function of spin. Using four LIGO–Virgo NSBH events including GW190814, if we assume that the NS spin distribution is uniformly distributed up to the maximum (breakup) spin, we infer the maximum nonspinning NS mass is (90% credibility), while assuming only nonspinning NSs, the NS maximum mass must be >2.53 ${2.7}_{0.4}^{+0.5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}{M}_{\odot}$M _{⊙}(90% credibility). The data support the mass gap’s existence, with a minimum BH mass at . With future observations, under simplified assumptions, 150 NSBH events may constrain the maximum nonspinning NS mass to ±0.02 ${5.4}_{1.0}^{+0.7}{M}_{\odot}$M _{⊙}, and we may even measure the relation between the NS spin and maximum mass entirely from GW data. If rapidly rotating NSs exist, their spins and masses must be modeled simultaneously to avoid biasing the NS maximum mass. 
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) gravitationalwave (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 pairinstability 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

Abstract The component black holes (BHs) observed in gravitationalwave (GW) binary black hole (BBH) events tend to be more massive and slower spinning than those observed in black hole Xray binaries (BHXRBs). 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 highmass Xray 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 lowmass Xray 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 BHXRBs. 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 spinup must be <0.03.more » « less

Abstract Gravitationalwave observations of binary black hole (BBH) systems point to black hole spin magnitudes being relatively low. These measurements appear in tension with high spin measurements for highmass Xray binaries (HMXBs). We use grids of MESA simulations combined with the rapid populationsynthesis code COSMIC to examine the origin of these two binary populations. It has been suggested that CaseA mass transfer while both stars are on the main sequence can form highspin BHs in HMXBs. Assuming this formation channel, we show that depending on the critical mass ratios for the stability of mass transfer, 48%–100% of these CaseA HMXBs merge during the commonenvelope phase and up to 42% result in binaries too wide to merge within a Hubble time. Both MESA and COSMIC show that highspin HMXBs formed through CaseA mass transfer can only form merging BBHs within a small parameter space where mass transfer can lead to enough orbital shrinkage to merge within a Hubble time. We find that only up to 11% of these CaseA HMXBs result in BBH mergers, and at most 20% of BBH mergers came from CaseA HMXBs. Therefore, it is not surprising that these two spin distributions are observed to be different.

Abstract We outline the “dark siren” galaxy catalog method for cosmological inference using gravitational wave (GW) standard sirens, clarifying some common misconceptions in the implementation of this method. When a confident transient electromagnetic counterpart to a GW event is unavailable, the identification of a unique host galaxy is in general challenging. Instead, as originally proposed by Schutz, one can consult a galaxy catalog and implement a dark siren statistical approach incorporating all potential host galaxies within the localization volume. Trott & Huterer recently claimed that this approach results in a biased estimate of the Hubble constant, H 0 , when implemented on mock data, even if optimistic assumptions are made. We demonstrate explicitly that, as previously shown by multiple independent groups, the dark siren statistical method leads to an unbiased posterior when the method is applied to the data correctly. We highlight common sources of error possible to make in the generation of mock data and implementation of the statistical framework, including the mismodeling of selection effects and inconsistent implementations of the Bayesian framework, which can lead to a spurious bias.more » « lessFree, publiclyaccessible full text available June 22, 2024