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  1. Abstract

    Understanding the noise in gravitational-wave detectors is central to detecting and interpreting gravitational-wave signals. Glitches are transient, non-Gaussian noise features that can have a range of environmental and instrumental origins. The Gravity Spy project uses a machine-learning algorithm to classify glitches based upon their time–frequency morphology. The resulting set of classified glitches can be used as input to detector-characterisation investigations of how to mitigate glitches, or data-analysis studies of how to ameliorate the impact of glitches. Here we present the results of the Gravity Spy analysis of data up to the end of the third observing run of advanced laser interferometric gravitational-wave observatory (LIGO). We classify 233981 glitches from LIGO Hanford and 379805 glitches from LIGO Livingston into morphological classes. We find that the distribution of glitches differs between the two LIGO sites. This highlights the potential need for studies of data quality to be individually tailored to each gravitational-wave observatory.

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  2. Abstract

    Gravitational-wave 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 high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs). We use grids of MESA simulations combined with the rapid population-synthesis code COSMIC to examine the origin of these two binary populations. It has been suggested that Case-A mass transfer while both stars are on the main sequence can form high-spin 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 Case-A HMXBs merge during the common-envelope phase and up to 42% result in binaries too wide to merge within a Hubble time. Both MESA and COSMIC show that high-spin HMXBs formed through Case-A 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 Case-A HMXBs result in BBH mergers, and at most 20% of BBH mergers came from Case-A HMXBs. Therefore, it is not surprising that these two spin distributions are observed to be different.

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  3. Abstract

    The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration have cataloged eleven confidently detected gravitational-wave events during the first two observing runs of the advanced detector era. All eleven events were consistent with being from well-modeled mergers between compact stellar-mass objects: black holes or neutron stars. The data around the time of each of these events have been made publicly available through the gravitational-wave open science center. The entirety of the gravitational-wave strain data from the first and second observing runs have also now been made publicly available. There is considerable interest among the broad scientific community in understanding the data and methods used in the analyses. In this paper, we provide an overview of the detector noise properties and the data analysis techniques used to detect gravitational-wave signals and infer the source properties. We describe some of the checks that are performed to validate the analyses and results from the observations of gravitational-wave events. We also address concerns that have been raised about various properties of LIGO–Virgo detector noise and the correctness of our analyses as applied to the resulting data.

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  4. 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) gravitational-wave (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 pair-instability 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 % . 
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  5. Abstract The component black holes (BHs) observed in gravitational-wave (GW) binary black hole (BBH) events tend to be more massive and slower spinning than those observed in black hole X-ray binaries (BH-XRBs). 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 high-mass X-ray 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 low-mass X-ray 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 BH-XRBs. 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 spin-up must be <0.03. 
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