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  1. 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.more »Future studies into black hole cluster populations and the spin distribution of hierarchically formed black holes will test this scenario.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 26, 2023
  2. Small, highly absorbing points are randomly present on the surfaces of the main interferometer optics in Advanced LIGO. The resulting nanometer scale thermo-elastic deformations and substrate lenses from these micron-scale absorbers significantly reduce the sensitivity of the interferometer directly though a reduction in the power-recycling gain and indirect interactions with the feedback control system. We review the expected surface deformation from point absorbers and provide a pedagogical description of the impact on power buildup in second generation gravitational wave detectors (dual-recycled Fabry–Perot Michelson interferometers). This analysis predicts that the power-dependent reduction in interferometer performance will significantly degrade maximum stored power by up to 50% and, hence, limit GW sensitivity, but it suggests system wide corrections that can be implemented in current and future GW detectors. This is particularly pressing given that future GW detectors call for an order of magnitude more stored power than currently used in Advanced LIGO in Observing Run 3. We briefly review strategies to mitigate the effects of point absorbers in current and future GW wave detectors to maximize the success of these enterprises.