First or second generation? Black hole census with gravitational wave observations

Advanced LIGO detectors at Hanford and Livingston made two confirmed and one marginal detection of binary black holes during their first observing run. The first event, GW150914, was from the merger of two black holes much heavier that those whose masses have been estimated so far, indicating a formation scenario that might differ from "ordinary" stellar evolution. One possibility is that these heavy black holes resulted from a previous merger. When the progenitors of a black hole binary merger result from previous mergers, they should (on average) merge later, be more massive, and have spin magnitudes clustered around a dimensionless spin ~0.7. Here we ask the following question: can gravitational-wave observations determine whether merging black holes were born from the collapse of massive stars ("first generation"), rather than being the end product of earlier mergers ("second generation")? We construct simple, observationally motivated populations of black hole binaries and we use Bayesian model selection to show that measurements of the masses, luminosity distance (or redshift) and "effective spin" of black hole binaries can indeed distinguish between these different formation scenarios.

Comments: 16 pages, 7 figures, 2 tables. Submitted to PRD

Similar Publications

Motivated by various systems in which quantum effects occur in classical backgrounds, we consider the dynamics of a classical particle as described by a coherent state that is coupled to a quantum bath via bi-quadratic interactions. We evaluate the resulting quantum dissipation of the motion of the classical particle. We also find classical initial conditions for the bath that effectively lead to the same dissipation as that due to quantum effects, possibly providing a way to approximately account for quantum backreaction within a classical analysis. Read More


We show how a global BMS4 algebra appears as the asymptotic symmetry algebra at spatial infinity. Using linearised theory, we then show that this global BMS4 algebra is the one introduced by Strominger as a symmetry of the S-matrix. Read More


Unresolved sources of gravitational waves are at the origin of a stochastic gravitational wave background. While the computation of its mean density as a function of frequency in a homogeneous and isotropic universe is standard lore, the computation of its anisotropies requires to understand the coarse graining from local systems, to galactic scales and then to cosmology. An expression of the gravitational wave energy density valid in any general spacetime is derived. Read More


In this paper, we study thermodynamics of the cluster of galaxies under the effect of dynamical dark energy. We evaluate the configurational integral for interacting system of galaxies in an expanding universe by including the effects produced by the varying $\Lambda$. The gravitational partition function is obtained using this configuration integral. Read More


The simplest gauge gravitation theory in Riemann-Cartan space-time leading to the solution of the problem of cosmological singularity and dark energy problem is investigated with purpose to solve the dark matter problem. It is shown that the interaction of the vacuum torsion field with proper angular moments of gravitating objects can lead to appearance at astrophysical scale (galaxies, galactic clusters) additional force of gravitational attraction, which in the frame of standard theory is connected with dark matter. Read More


We have constructed a class of perturbative dynamical black hole solutions in presence of cosmological constant. We have done our calculation in large number of dimensions. The inverse power of dimension has been used as the perturbation parameter and our calculation is valid upto the first subleading order. Read More


We study the stability of a recently proposed model of scalar-field matter called mimetic dark matter or imperfect dark matter. It has been known that mimetic matter with higher derivative terms suffers from gradient instabilities in scalar perturbations. To seek for an instability-free extension of imperfect dark matter, we develop an effective theory of cosmological perturbations subject to the constraint on the scalar field's kinetic term. Read More


In this short paper, we show that the peeling property still holds for Bondi-Sachs metrics with nonzero cosmological constant under the new boundary condition with nontrivial B, X, Y obtained in [6]. This should indicate the new boundary condition is natural. Moreover, we construct some nontrivial vacuum Bondi-Sachs metrics without the Bondi news. Read More


We give an account of the "gravitational memory effect" in the presence of an exact plane wave solution of Einstein's vacuum equations. This allows an elementary but exact description of the soft gravitons and how their presence may be detected by observing the motion of freely falling particles. Read More


Violations of Lorentz invariance can lead to an energy-dependent vacuum dispersion of light, which results in arrival-time differences of photons arising with different energies from a given transient source. In this work, direction-dependent dispersion constraints are obtained on nonbirefringent Lorentz-violating operators in effective field theory, using the observed spectral lags of the gamma-ray burst GRB 160625B. This burst has unusually large high-energy photon statistics, so we can obtain constraints from the true spectral time lags of bunches of high-energy photons rather than from the rough time lag of a single highest-energy photon. Read More