skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Vitale, Salvatore"

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

    One of the goals of gravitational-wave astrophysics is to infer the number and properties of the formation channels of binary black holes (BBHs); to do so, one must be able to connect various models with the data. We explore benefits and potential issues with analyses using models informed by population synthesis. We consider five possible formation channels of BBHs, as in Zevin et al. (2021b). First, we confirm with the GWTC-3 catalog what Zevin et al. (2021b) found in the GWTC-2 catalog, i.e., that the data are not consistent with the totality of observed BBHs forming in any single channel. Next, using simulated detections, we show that the uncertainties in the estimation of the branching ratios can shrink by up to a factor of ∼1.7 as the catalog size increases from 50 to 250, within the expected number of BBH detections in LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA's fourth observing run. Finally, we show that this type of analysis is prone to significant biases. By simulating universes where all sources originate from a single channel, we show that the influence of the Bayesian prior can make it challenging to conclude that one channel produces all signals. Furthermore, by simulating universes where all five channels contribute but only a subset of channels are used in the analysis, we show that biases in the branching ratios can be as large as ∼50% with 250 detections. This suggests that caution should be used when interpreting the results of analyses based on strongly modeled astrophysical subpopulations.

    more » « less

    The global network of interferometric gravitational wave (GW) observatories (LIGO, Virgo, KAGRA) has detected and characterized nearly 100 mergers of binary compact objects. However, many more real GWs are lurking sub-threshold, which need to be sifted from terrestrial-origin noise triggers (known as glitches). Because glitches are not due to astrophysical phenomena, inference on the glitch under the assumption it has an astrophysical source (e.g. binary black hole coalescence) results in source parameters that are inconsistent with what is known about the astrophysical population. In this work, we show how one can extract unbiased population constraints from a catalogue of both real GW events and glitch contaminants by performing Bayesian inference on their source populations simultaneously. In this paper, we assume glitches come from a specific class with a well-characterized effective population (blip glitches). We also calculate posteriors on the probability of each event in the catalogue belonging to the astrophysical or glitch class, and obtain posteriors on the number of astrophysical events in the catalogue, finding it to be consistent with the actual number of events included.

    more » « less
  3. 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.

    more » « less
  4. 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. 
    more » « less

    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.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract The possible existence of primordial black holes in the stellar-mass window has received considerable attention because their mergers may contribute to current and future gravitational-wave detections. Primordial black hole mergers, together with mergers of black holes originating from Population III stars, are expected to dominate at high redshifts ( z ≳ 10). However, the primordial black hole merger rate density is expected to rise monotonically with redshift, while Population III mergers can only occur after the birth of the first stars. Next-generation gravitational-wave detectors such as the Cosmic Explorer (CE) and Einstein Telescope (ET) can access this distinctive feature in the merger rates as functions of redshift, allowing for direct measurement of the abundance of the two populations and hence for robust constraints on the abundance of primordial black holes. We simulate four months’ worth of data observed by a CE-ET detector network and perform hierarchical Bayesian analysis to recover the merger rate densities. We find that if the universe has no primordial black holes with masses of  ( 10 M ⊙ ) , the projected upper limit on their abundance f PBH as a fraction of dark matter energy density may be as low as f PBH ∼  ( 10 − 5 ) , about two orders of magnitude lower than the current upper limits in this mass range. If instead f PBH ≳ 10 −4 , future gravitational-wave observations would exclude f PBH = 0 at the 95% credible interval. 
    more » « less
  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.

    more » « less

    The identification of the electromagnetic (EM) counterpart candidate ZTF19abanrhr to the binary black hole merger GW190521 opens the possibility to infer cosmological parameters from this standard siren with a uniquely identified host galaxy. The distant merger allows for cosmological inference beyond the Hubble constant. Here, we show that the three-dimensional spatial location of ZTF19abanrhr calculated from the EM data remains consistent with the latest sky localization of GW190521 provided by the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration. If ZTF19abanrhr is associated with the GW190521 merger, and assuming a flat wCDM model, we find that $H_0=48^{+23}_{-10}\, \mathrm{km} \, \mathrm{s}^{-1}\, \mathrm{Mpc}^{-1}$, $\Omega _m=0.35^{+0.41}_{-0.26}$, and $w_0=-1.31^{+0.61}_{-0.48}$ (median and $68{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ credible interval). If we use the Hubble constant value inferred from another gravitational-wave event, GW170817, as a prior for our analysis, together with assumption of a flat ΛCDM and the model-independent constraint on the physical matter density ωm from Planck, we find $H_0=68.9^{+8.7}_{-6.0}\, \mathrm{km} \, \mathrm{s}^{-1}\, \mathrm{Mpc}^{-1}$.

    more » « less