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    Gamma-ray burst GRB 211211A may have been the result of a neutron star merger at ≈350 Mpc. However, none of the LIGO–Virgo detectors were operating at the time. We show that the gravitational-wave signal from a GRB 211211A-like binary neutron star inspiral in the next LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA observing run (O4) would be below the conventional detection threshold, however a coincident gamma-ray burst observation would provide necessary information to claim a statistically significant multimessenger observation. We calculate that with O4 sensitivity, approximately $11{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of gamma-ray bursts within 600 Mpc will produce a confident association between the gravitational-wave binary neutron star inspiral signature and the prompt gamma-ray signature. This corresponds to a coincident detection rate of $0.22^{+8.3}_{-0.22}\,\mathrm{yr^{-1}}$, where the uncertainties are the 90 per cent confidence intervals arising from uncertainties in the absolute merger rate, beaming and jet-launching fractions. These increase to approximately $34{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ and $0.71^{+26.8}_{-0.70}\,\mathrm{yr^{-1}}$ with proposed O5 sensitivity. We show that the above numbers do not depend significantly on the number of gravitational-wave observatories operating with the specific sensitivity. That is, the number of confident joint gamma-ray burst and gravitational-wave detections is only marginally improved with two or three detectors operating compared to a single detector. It is therefore worth considering whether one detector with sufficient sensitivity (post O4) should remain in sky-watch mode at all times to elucidate the true nature of GRB 211211A-like events, a proposal we discuss in detail.

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  2. Abstract Ultralight bosons are a proposed solution to outstanding problems in cosmology and particle physics: they provide a dark-matter candidate while potentially explaining the strong charge-parity problem. If they exist, ultralight bosons can interact with black holes through the superradiant instability. In this work we explore the consequences of this instability on the evolution of hierarchical black holes within dense stellar clusters. By reducing the spin of individual black holes, superradiance reduces the recoil velocity of merging binary black holes, which, in turn, increases the retention fraction of hierarchical merger remnants. We show that the existence of ultralight bosons with mass 2 × 10 −14 ≲ μ /eV ≲ 2 × 10 −13 would lead to an increased rate of hierarchical black hole mergers in nuclear star clusters. An ultralight boson in this energy range would result in up to ≈60% more present-day nuclear star clusters supporting hierarchical growth. The presence of an ultralight boson can also double the rate of intermediate-mass black hole mergers to ≈0.08 Gpc −3 yr −1 in the local universe. These results imply that a select range of ultralight boson masses can have far-reaching consequences for the population of black holes in dense stellar environments. Future studies into black hole cluster populations and the spin distribution of hierarchically formed black holes will test this scenario. 
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  3. Abstract

    Orbital eccentricity is a key signature of dynamical binary black hole formation. The gravitational waves from a coalescing binary contain information about its orbital eccentricity, which may be measured if the binary retains sufficient eccentricity near merger. Dedicated waveforms are required to measure eccentricity. Several models have been put forward, and show good agreement with numerical relativity at the level of a few percent or better. However, there are multiple ways to define eccentricity for inspiralling systems, and different models internally use different definitions of eccentricity, making it difficult to compare eccentricity measurements directly. In this work, we systematically compare two eccentric waveform models,SEOBNREandTEOBResumS, by developing a framework to translate between different definitions of eccentricity. This mapping is constructed by minimizing the relative mismatch between the two models over eccentricity and reference frequency, before evolving the eccentricity of one model to the same reference frequency as the other model. We show that for a given value of eccentricity passed toSEOBNRE, one must input a 20%–50% smaller value of eccentricity toTEOBResumSin order to obtain a waveform with the same empirical eccentricity. We verify this mapping by repeating our analysis for eccentric numerical relativity simulations, demonstrating thatTEOBResumSreports a correspondingly smaller value of eccentricity thanSEOBNRE.

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  4. Abstract Orbital eccentricity is one of the most robust discriminators for distinguishing between dynamical and isolated formation scenarios of binary black hole mergers using gravitational-wave observatories such as LIGO and Virgo. Using state-of-the-art cluster models, we show how selection effects impact the detectable distribution of eccentric mergers from clusters. We show that the observation (or lack thereof) of eccentric binary black hole mergers can significantly constrain the fraction of detectable systems that originate from dynamical environments, such as dense star clusters. After roughly 150 observations, observing no eccentric binary signals would indicate that clusters cannot make up the majority of the merging binary black hole population in the local universe (95% credibility). However, if dense star clusters dominate the rate of eccentric mergers and a single system is confirmed to be measurably eccentric in the first and second gravitational-wave transient catalogs, clusters must account for at least 14% of detectable binary black hole mergers. The constraints on the fraction of detectable systems from dense star clusters become significantly tighter as the number of eccentric observations grows and will be constrained to within 0.5 dex once 10 eccentric binary black holes are observed. 
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  5. null (Ed.)