results for au:Holz_D in:gr-qc

- Mar 01 2018 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1802.10194v2The detection of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo has enabled novel tests of general relativity, including direct study of the polarization of gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for only two tensor gravitational-wave polarizations, general metric theories can additionally predict two vector and two scalar polarizations. The polarization of gravitational waves is encoded in the spectral shape of the stochastic gravitational-wave background, formed by the superposition of cosmological and individually-unresolved astrophysical sources. Using data recorded by Advanced LIGO during its first observing run, we search for a stochastic background of generically-polarized gravitational waves. We find no evidence for a background of any polarization, and place the first direct bounds on the contributions of vector and scalar polarizations to the stochastic background. Under log-uniform priors for the energy in each polarization, we limit the energy-densities of tensor, vector, and scalar modes at 95% credibility to $\Omega^T_0 < 5.6 \times 10^{-8}$, $\Omega^V_0 < 6.4\times 10^{-8}$, and $\Omega^S_0 < 1.1\times 10^{-7}$ at a reference frequency $f_0 = 25$ Hz.
- Feb 15 2018 gr-qc arXiv:1802.05241v1We report on a new all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 475-2000 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0e-8, +1e-9] Hz/s. Potential signals could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run O1. No gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. For completeness, results from the separately published low frequency search 20-475 Hz are included as well. Our lowest upper limit on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h_0 is 4e-25 near 170 Hz, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of 1.3e-24. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limit obtained is ~1.5e-25.
- Jan 26 2018 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1801.08160v1The observation of GW170817 in both gravitational and electromagnetic waves provides a number of unique tests of general relativity. Certain modifications of gravity involve the presence of additional spacetime dimensions. In these models, as the gravitational waves propagate they "leak" into the extra dimensions, leading to a reduction in the amplitude of the observed gravitational waves, and a commensurate systematic error in the inferred distance to the gravitational wave source. Electromagnetic waves would remain unaffected. We compare the inferred distance to GW170817 from the observation of gravitational waves, $d_L^\mathrm{GW}$, with the inferred distance to the electromagnetic counterpart NGC 4993, $d_L^\mathrm{EM}$. We constrain $d_L^\mathrm{GW} = (d_L^\mathrm{EM})^\mathrm{\gamma}$ with $\gamma = 1.01^{+0.04}_{-0.05}$ (for the SHoES value of $H_0$) or $\gamma = 0.99^{+0.03}_{-0.05}$ (for the Planck value of $H_0$), where all values are MAP and minimal 68\% credible intervals. These constraints imply that gravitational waves propagate in $D=3+1$ spacetime dimensions, as expected in general relativity. In particular, we find that $D = 4.02^{+0.07}_{-0.10}$ (SHoES) and $D = 3.98^{+0.07}_{-0.09}$ (Planck). Furthermore, we place limits on the screening scale for theories with $D>4$ spacetime dimensions, finding that the screening scale must be greater than $\sim 20\,$Mpc. We also place a lower limit on the lifetime of the graviton of $t > 4.50 \times 10^8\,$yr.
- Dec 05 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1712.01168v2Cosmic strings are topological defects which can be formed in GUT-scale phase transitions in the early universe. They are also predicted to form in the context of string theory. The main mechanism for a network of Nambu-Goto cosmic strings to lose energy is through the production of loops and the subsequent emission of gravitational waves, thus offering an experimental signature for the existence of cosmic strings. Here we report on the analysis conducted to specifically search for gravitational-wave bursts from cosmic string loops in the data of Advanced LIGO 2015-2016 observing run (O1). No evidence of such signals was found in the data, and as a result we set upper limits on the cosmic string parameters for three recent loop distribution models. In this paper, we initially derive constraints on the string tension $G\mu$ and the intercommutation probability, using not only the burst analysis performed on the O1 data set, but also results from the previously published LIGO stochastic O1 analysis, pulsar timing arrays, cosmic microwave background and Big-Bang nucleosynthesis experiments. We show that these data sets are complementary in that they probe gravitational waves produced by cosmic string loops during very different epochs. Finally, we show that the data sets exclude large parts of the parameter space of the three loop distribution models we consider.
- Nov 21 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1711.06843v1We present the results of a search for long-duration gravitational wave transients in the data of the LIGO Hanford and LIGO Livingston second generation detectors between September 2015 and January 2016, with a total observational time of 49 days. The search targets gravitational wave transients of \unit[10 -- 500]s duration in a frequency band of \unit[24 -- 2048]Hz, with minimal assumptions about the signal waveform, polarization, source direction, or time of occurrence. No significant events were observed. %All candidate triggers were consistent with the expected background, As a result we set 90\% confidence upper limits on the rate of long-duration gravitational wave transients for different types of gravitational wave signals. We also show that the search is sensitive to sources in the Galaxy emitting at least $\sim$ \unit[$10^{-8}$]$\mathrm{M_{\odot} c^2}$ in gravitational waves.
- Nov 16 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1711.05578v1On June 8, 2017 at 02:01:16.49 UTC, a gravitational-wave signal from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes was observed by the two Advanced LIGO detectors with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13. This system is the lightest black hole binary so far observed, with component masses $12^{+7}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ and $7^{+2}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ (90% credible intervals). These lie in the range of measured black hole masses in low-mass X-ray binaries, thus allowing us to compare black holes detected through gravitational waves with electromagnetic observations. The source's luminosity distance is $340^{+140}_{-140}$ Mpc, corresponding to redshift $0.07^{+0.03}_{-0.03}$. We verify that the signal waveform is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.
- Oct 26 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1710.09320v1The first observation of a binary neutron star coalescence by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detectors offers an unprecedented opportunity to study matter under the most extreme conditions. After such a merger, a compact remnant is left over whose nature depends primarily on the masses of the inspiralling objects and on the equation of state of nuclear matter. This could be either a black hole or a neutron star (NS), with the latter being either long-lived or too massive for stability implying delayed collapse to a black hole. Here, we present a search for gravitational waves from the remnant of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 using data from Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. We search for short ($\lesssim1$ s) and intermediate-duration ($\lesssim 500$ s) signals, which includes gravitational-wave emission from a hypermassive NS or supramassive NS, respectively. We find no signal from the post-merger remnant. Our derived strain upper limits are more than an order of magnitude larger than those predicted by most models. For short signals, our best upper limit on the root-sum-square of the gravitational-wave strain emitted from 1--4 kHz is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=2.1\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ at 50% detection efficiency. For intermediate-duration signals, our best upper limit at 50% detection efficiency is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=8.4\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a millisecond magnetar model, and $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=5.9\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a bar-mode model. These results indicate that post-merger emission from a similar event may be detectable when advanced detectors reach design sensitivity or with next-generation detectors.
- Oct 17 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1710.05837v1The LIGO Scientific and Virgo Collaborations have announced the first detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of two neutron stars. The merger rate of binary neutron stars estimated from this event suggests that distant, unresolvable binary neutron stars create a significant astrophysical stochastic gravitational-wave background. The binary neutron star background will add to the background from binary black holes, increasing the amplitude of the total astrophysical background relative to previous expectations. In the Advanced LIGO-Virgo frequency band most sensitive to stochastic backgrounds (near 25 Hz), we predict a total astrophysical background with amplitude $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.8_{-1.3}^{+2.7} \times 10^{-9}$ with $90\%$ confidence, compared with $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.1_{-0.7}^{+1.2} \times 10^{-9}$ from binary black holes alone. Assuming the most probable rate for compact binary mergers, we find that the total background may be detectable with a signal-to-noise-ratio of 3 after 40 months of total observation time, based on the expected timeline for Advanced LIGO and Virgo to reach their design sensitivity.
- Oct 09 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1710.02185v3The first observing run of Advanced LIGO spanned 4 months, from September 12, 2015 to January 19, 2016, during which gravitational waves were directly detected from two binary black hole systems, namely GW150914 and GW151226. Confident detection of gravitational waves requires an understanding of instrumental transients and artifacts that can reduce the sensitivity of a search. Studies of the quality of the detector data yield insights into the cause of instrumental artifacts and data quality vetoes specific to a search are produced to mitigate the effects of problematic data. In this paper, the systematic removal of noisy data from analysis time is shown to improve the sensitivity of searches for compact binary coalescences. The output of the PyCBC pipeline, which is a python-based code package used to search for gravitational wave signals from compact binary coalescences, is used as a metric for improvement. GW150914 was a loud enough signal that removing noisy data did not improve its significance. However, the removal of data with excess noise decreased the false alarm rate of GW151226 by more than two orders of magnitude, from 1 in 770 years to less than 1 in 186000 years.
- Oct 09 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1710.02327v2Spinning neutron stars asymmetric with respect to their rotation axis are potential sources of continuous gravitational waves for ground-based interferometric detectors. In the case of known pulsars a fully coherent search, based on matched filtering, which uses the position and rotational parameters obtained from electromagnetic observations, can be carried out. Matched filtering maximizes the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, but a large sensitivity loss is expected in case of even a very small mismatch between the assumed and the true signal parameters. For this reason, \it narrow-band analyses methods have been developed, allowing a fully coherent search for gravitational waves from known pulsars over a fraction of a hertz and several spin-down values. In this paper we describe a narrow-band search of eleven pulsars using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. Although we have found several initial outliers, further studies show no significant evidence for the presence of a gravitational wave signal. Finally, we have placed upper limits on the signal strain amplitude lower than the spin-down limit for 5 of the 11 targets over the bands searched: in the case of J1813-1749 the spin-down limit has been beaten for the first time. For an additional 3 targets, the median upper limit across the search bands is below the spin-down limit. This is the most sensitive narrow-band search for continuous gravitational waves carried out so far.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1709.09203v1We present results from the first directed search for nontensorial gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for tensorial (plus and cross) modes only, a generic metric theory may, in principle, predict waves with up to six different polarizations. This analysis is sensitive to continuous signals of scalar, vector or tensor polarizations, and does not rely on any specific theory of gravity. After searching data from the first observation run of the advanced LIGO detectors for signals at twice the rotational frequency of 200 known pulsars, we find no evidence of gravitational waves of any polarization. We report the first upper limits for scalar and vector strains, finding values comparable in magnitude to previously-published limits for tensor strain. Our results may be translated into constraints on specific alternative theories of gravity.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1709.09660v3On August 14, 2017 at 10:30:43 UTC, the Advanced Virgo detector and the two Advanced LIGO detectors coherently observed a transient gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar mass black holes, with a false-alarm-rate of $\lesssim$ 1 in 27000 years. The signal was observed with a three-detector network matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 18. The inferred masses of the initial black holes are $30.5_{-3.0}^{+5.7}$ Msun and $25.3_{-4.2}^{+2.8}$ Msun (at the 90% credible level). The luminosity distance of the source is $540_{-210}^{+130}~\mathrm{Mpc}$, corresponding to a redshift of $z=0.11_{-0.04}^{+0.03}$. A network of three detectors improves the sky localization of the source, reducing the area of the 90% credible region from 1160 deg$^2$ using only the two LIGO detectors to 60 deg$^2$ using all three detectors. For the first time, we can test the nature of gravitational wave polarizations from the antenna response of the LIGO-Virgo network, thus enabling a new class of phenomenological tests of gravity.
- Sep 26 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1709.08584v2In LIGO's O1 and O2 observational runs, the detectors were sensitive to stellar mass binary black hole coalescences with component masses up to $100\,M_\odot$, with binaries with primary masses above $40\,M_\odot$ representing $\gtrsim90\%$ of the total accessible sensitive volume. Nonetheless, of the 5.9 detections (GW150914, LVT151012, GW151226, GW170104, GW170608, GW170814) reported by LIGO-Virgo, the most massive binary detected was GW150914 with a primary component mass of $\sim36\,M_\odot$, far below the detection mass limit. Furthermore, there are theoretical arguments in favor of an upper mass gap, predicting an absence of black holes in the mass range $50\lesssim M\lesssim135\,M_\odot$. We argue that the absence of detected binary systems with component masses heavier than $\sim40\,M_\odot$ may be preliminary evidence for this upper mass gap. By allowing for the presence of a mass gap, we find weaker constraints on the shape of the underlying mass distribution of binary black holes. We fit a power-law distribution with an upper mass cutoff to real and simulated BBH mass measurements, finding that the first 3.9 BBHs favor shallow power law slopes $\alpha \lesssim 3$ and an upper mass cutoff $M_\mathrm{max} \sim 40\,M_\odot$. This inferred distribution is entirely consistent with the two recently reported detections, GW170608 and GW170814. We show that with $\sim10$ additional LIGO-Virgo BBH detections, fitting the BH mass distribution will provide strong evidence for an upper mass gap if one exists.
- Sep 26 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1709.07896v1With the detection of four candidate binary black hole (BBH) mergers by the Advanced LIGO detectors thus far, it is becoming possible to constrain the properties of the BBH merger population in order to better understand the formation of these systems. Black hole (BH) spin orientations are one of the cleanest discriminators of formation history, with BHs in dynamically formed binaries in dense stellar environments expected to have spins distributed isotropically, in contrast to isolated populations where stellar evolution is expected to induce BH spins preferentially aligned with the orbital angular momentum. In this work we propose a simple, model-agnostic approach to characterizing the spin properties of LIGO's BBH population. Using measurements of the effective spin of the binaries, which is LIGO's best constrained spin parameter, we introduce a simple parameter to quantify the fraction of the population that is isotropically distributed, regardless of the spin magnitude distribution of the population. Once the orientation characteristics of the population have been determined, we show how measurements of effective spin can be used to directly constrain the underlying BH spin magnitude distribution. Although we find that the majority of the current effective spin measurements are too small to be informative, with LIGO's four BBH candidates we find a slight preference for an underlying population with aligned spins over one with isotropic spins (with an odds ratio of 1.1). We argue that it will be possible to distinguish symmetric and anti-symmetric populations at high confidence with tens of additional detections, although mixed populations may take significantly more detections to disentangle. We also derive preliminary spin magnitude distributions for LIGO's black holes, under the assumption of aligned or isotropic populations.
- Sep 08 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1709.01943v2We compare binary evolution models with different assumptions about black-hole natal kicks to the first gravitational-wave observations performed by the LIGO detectors. Our comparisons attempt to reconcile merger rate, masses, spins, and spin-orbit misalignments of all of current observations with state-of-the-art formation scenarios of binary black holes formed in isolation. We estimate that black holes should receive natal kicks at birth of the order of $\sigma\simeq 200$ (50) km/s if tidal processes do (not) realign stellar spins. Our estimate is driven by two simple factors. The natal kick dispersion $\sigma$ is bounded from above because large kicks disrupt too many binaries (reducing the merger rate below the observed value). Conversely, the natal kick distribution is bounded from below because modest kicks are needed to produce a range of spin-orbit misalignments. A distribution of misalignments increases our models' compatibility with LIGO's observations, if all BHs are likely to have natal spins.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1707.02667v2We report on an all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 20-475 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0, +0.1]e-8 Hz/s. Such a signal could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run, O1. No periodic gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. The lowest upper limits on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h0 are 4e-25 near 170 Hz. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limits obtained are 1.5e-25. These upper limits refer to all sky locations and the entire range of frequency derivative values. For a population-averaged ensemble of sky locations and stellar orientations, the lowest upper limits obtained for the strain amplitude are 2.5e-25.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1707.02669v2We report results of a deep all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves from isolated neutron stars in data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. This search investigates the low frequency range of Advanced LIGO data, between 20 and 100 Hz, much of which was not explored in initial LIGO. The search was made possible by the computing power provided by the volunteers of the Einstein@Home project. We find no significant signal candidate and set the most stringent upper limits to date on the amplitude of gravitational wave signals from the target population, corresponding to a sensitivity depth of 48.7 [1/$\sqrt{{\textrm{Hz}}}$]. At the frequency of best strain sensitivity, near 100 Hz, we set 90% confidence upper limits of $1.8 \times 10^{-25}$. At the low end of our frequency range, 20 Hz, we achieve upper limits of $3.9 \times 10^{-24}$. At 55 Hz we can exclude sources with ellipticities greater than $10^{-5}$ within 100 pc of Earth with fiducial value of the principal moment of inertia of $10^{38} \textrm{kg m}^2$.
- Jun 23 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1706.07053v3LIGO/Virgo have reported six binary black hole (BH-BH) mergers. The effective spins of all of them are clustered around Xeff=0. However, the effective spin of one of them, GW170104, has an 82% probability of being negative, which would indicate a significant spin-orbit misalignment and seemingly supporting dynamical formation over isolated binary evolution. We show (i) as a proof-of-principle case, that GW170104 could have been formed through isolated binary evolution, and (ii) that the LIGO/Virgo measurements inform about, thus far unconstrained, angular momentum transport in massive stars. Massive stars can have inner transport of angular momentum and their strong winds may carry away substantial angular momentum, affecting the natal spin of the BHs created at the end of their lives. We present a physically motivated model for BH natal spins based on moderately efficient angular momentum transport. With this model we can explain the low effective spin of GW170104 in the context of isolated binary evolution. However, our predicted effective spin distribution of BH-BH mergers, showing a large fraction of high effective spins, is not consistent with LIGO/Virgo observations. If the effective spins of BHs observed by LIGO/Virgo continue to be small, it will indicate that angular momentum transport in massive stars is more efficient than adopted in our model and that BHs found in BH-BH mergers are born with low spins (a_spin=0).
- Jun 20 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1706.05408v1Models of gravitational waveforms play a critical role in detecting and characterizing the gravitational waves (GWs) from compact binary coalescences. Waveforms from numerical relativity (NR), while highly accurate, are too computationally expensive to produce to be directly used with Bayesian parameter estimation tools like Markov-chain-Monte-Carlo and nested sampling. We propose a Gaussian process regression (GPR) method to generate accurate reduced-order-model waveforms based only on existing accurate (e.g. NR) simulations. Using a training set of simulated waveforms, our GPR approach produces interpolated waveforms along with uncertainties across the parameter space. As a proof of concept, we use a training set of IMRPhenomD waveforms to build a GPR model in the 2-d parameter space of mass ratio $q$ and equal-and-aligned spin $\chi_1=\chi_2$. Using a regular, equally-spaced grid of 120 IMRPhenomD training waveforms in $q\in[1,3]$ and $\chi_1 \in [-0.5,0.5]$, the GPR mean approximates IMRPhenomD in this space to mismatches below $4.3\times 10^{-5}$. Our approach can alternatively use training waveforms directly from numerical relativity. Beyond interpolation of waveforms, we also present a greedy algorithm that utilizes the errors provided by our GPR model to optimize the placement of future simulations. In a fiducial test case we find that using the greedy algorithm to iteratively add simulations achieves GPR errors that are $\sim 1$ order of magnitude lower than the errors from using Latin-hypercube or square training grids.
- Jun 13 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1706.03119v3We present the results of a semicoherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the low-mass X-ray binary Scorpius X-1, using data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. The search method uses details of the modelled, parametrized continuous signal to combine coherently data separated by less than a specified coherence time, which can be adjusted to trade off sensitivity against computational cost. A search was conducted over the frequency range from 25 Hz to 2000 Hz, spanning the current observationally-constrained range of the binary orbital parameters. No significant detection candidates were found, and frequency-dependent upper limits were set using a combination of sensitivity estimates and simulated signal injections. The most stringent upper limit was set at 175 Hz, with comparable limits set across the most sensitive frequency range from 100 Hz to 200 Hz. At this frequency, the 95 pct upper limit on signal amplitude h0 is 2.3e-25 marginalized over the unknown inclination angle of the neutron star's spin, and 8.03e-26 assuming the best orientation (which results in circularly polarized gravitational waves). These limits are a factor of 3-4 stronger than those set by other analyses of the same data, and a factor of about 7 stronger than the best upper limits set using initial LIGO data. In the vicinity of 100 Hz, the limits are a factor of between 1.2 and 3.5 above the predictions of the torque balance model, depending on inclination angle, if the most likely inclination angle of 44 degrees is assumed, they are within a factor of 1.7.
- Jun 07 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1706.01812v1We describe the observation of GW170104, a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of a pair of stellar-mass black holes. The signal was measured on January 4, 2017 at 10:11:58.6 UTC by the twin advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory during their second observing run, with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a false alarm rate less than 1 in 70,000 years. The inferred component black hole masses are $31.2^{+8.4}_{-6.0}\,M_\odot$ and $19.4^{+5.3}_{-5.9}\,M_\odot$ (at the 90% credible level). The black hole spins are best constrained through measurement of the effective inspiral spin parameter, a mass-weighted combination of the spin components perpendicular to the orbital plane, $\chi_\mathrm{eff} = -0.12^{+0.21}_{-0.30}.$ This result implies that spin configurations with both component spins positively aligned with the orbital angular momentum are disfavored. The source luminosity distance is $880^{+450}_{-390}~\mathrm{Mpc}$ corresponding to a redshift of $z = 0.18^{+0.08}_{-0.07}$. We constrain the magnitude of modifications to the gravitational-wave dispersion relation and perform null tests of general relativity. Assuming that gravitons are dispersed in vacuum like massive particles, we bound the graviton mass to $m_g \le 7.7 \times 10^{-23}~\mathrm{eV}/c^2$. In all cases, we find that GW170104 is consistent with general relativity.
- Apr 18 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.04628v4During their first observational run, the two Advanced LIGO detectors attained an unprecedented sensitivity, resulting in the first direct detections of gravitational-wave signals and GW151226, produced by stellar-mass binary black hole systems. This paper reports on an all-sky search for gravitational waves (GWs) from merging intermediate mass black hole binaries (IMBHBs). The combined results from two independent search techniques were used in this study: the first employs a matched-filter algorithm that uses a bank of filters covering the GW signal parameter space, while the second is a generic search for GW transients (bursts). No GWs from IMBHBs were detected, therefore, we constrain the rate of several classes of IMBHB mergers. The most stringent limit is obtained for black holes of individual mass $100\,M_\odot$, with spins aligned with the binary orbital angular momentum. For such systems, the merger rate is constrained to be less than $0.93~\mathrm{Gpc^{-3}\,yr}^{-1}$ in comoving units at the $90\%$ confidence level, an improvement of nearly 2 orders of magnitude over previous upper limits.
- Apr 13 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.03719v3Results are presented from a semi-coherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the brightest low-mass X-ray binary, Scorpius X-1, using data collected during the first Advanced LIGO observing run (O1). The search combines a frequency domain matched filter (Bessel-weighted $\mathcal{F}$-statistic) with a hidden Markov model to track wandering of the neutron star spin frequency. No evidence of gravitational waves is found in the frequency range 60-650 Hz. Frequentist 95% confidence strain upper limits, $h_0^{95\%} = 4.0\times10^{-25}$, $8.3\times10^{-25}$, and $3.0\times10^{-25}$ for electromagnetically restricted source orientation, unknown polarization, and circular polarization, respectively, are reported at 106 Hz. They are $\leq 10$ times higher than the theoretical torque-balance limit at 106 Hz.
- Mar 21 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1703.06869v3One proposed formation channel for stellar mass black holes (BHs) is through hierarchical mergers of smaller BHs. Repeated mergers between comparable mass BHs leave an imprint on the spin of the resulting BH, since the final BH spin is largely determined by the orbital angular momentum of the binary. We find that for stellar mass BHs forming hierarchically the distribution of spin magnitudes is universal, with a peak at $a \sim 0.7$ and little support below $a \sim 0.5$. We show that the spin distribution is robust against changes to the mass ratio of the merging binaries, the initial spin distribution of the first generation of BHs, and the number of merger generations. While we assume an isotropic distribution of initial spin directions, spins that are preferentially aligned or antialigned do not qualitatively change our results. We also consider a "cluster catastrophe" model for BH formation in which we allow for mergers of arbitrary mass ratios and show that this scenario predicts a unique spin distribution that is similar to the universal distribution derived for major majors. We explore the ability of spin measurements from ground-based gravitational-wave (GW) detectors to constrain hierarchical merger scenarios. We apply a hierarchical Bayesian mixture model to mock GW data and argue that the fraction of BHs that formed through hierarchical mergers will be constrained with $\mathcal{O}(100)$ LIGO binary black hole detections, while with $\mathcal{O}(10)$ detections we could falsify a model in which all component BHs form hierarchically.
- Jan 27 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1701.07709v5We present the result of searches for gravitational waves from 200 pulsars using data from the first observing run of the Advanced LIGO detectors. We find no significant evidence for a gravitational-wave signal from any of these pulsars, but we are able to set the most constraining upper limits yet on their gravitational-wave amplitudes and ellipticities. For eight of these pulsars, our upper limits give bounds that are improvements over the indirect spin-down limit values. For another 32, we are within a factor of 10 of the spin-down limit, and it is likely that some of these will be reachable in future runs of the advanced detector. Taken as a whole, these new results improve on previous limits by more than a factor of two.
- We employ gravitational-wave radiometry to map the gravitational waves stochastic background expected from a variety of contributing mechanisms and test the assumption of isotropy using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. We also search for persistent gravitational waves from point sources with only minimal assumptions over the 20 - 1726 Hz frequency band. Finding no evidence of gravitational waves from either point sources or a stochastic background, we set limits at 90% confidence. For broadband point sources, we report upper limits on the gravitational wave energy flux per unit frequency in the range $F_{\alpha,\Theta}(f) < (0.1 - 56) \times 10^{-8}$ erg cm$^{-2}$ s$^{-1}$ Hz$^{-1}$ (f/25 Hz)$^{\alpha-1}$ depending on the sky location $\Theta$ and the spectral power index $\alpha$. For extended sources, we report upper limits on the fractional gravitational wave energy density required to close the Universe of $\Omega(f,\Theta) < (0.39-7.6) \times 10^{-8}$ sr$^{-1}$ (f/25 Hz)$^\alpha$ depending on $\Theta$ and $\alpha$. Directed searches for narrowband gravitational waves from astrophysically interesting objects (Scorpius X-1, Supernova 1987 A, and the Galactic Center) yield median frequency-dependent limits on strain amplitude of $h_0 <$ (6.7, 5.5, and 7.0) $\times 10^{-25}$ respectively, at the most sensitive detector frequencies between 130 - 175 Hz. This represents a mean improvement of a factor of 2 across the band compared to previous searches of this kind for these sky locations, considering the different quantities of strain constrained in each case.
- A wide variety of astrophysical and cosmological sources are expected to contribute to a stochastic gravitational-wave background. Following the observations of GW150914 and GW151226, the rate and mass of coalescing binary black holes appear to be greater than many previous expectations. As a result, the stochastic background from unresolved compact binary coalescences is expected to be particularly loud. We perform a search for the isotropic stochastic gravitational-wave background using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. The data display no evidence of a stochastic gravitational-wave signal. We constrain the dimensionless energy density of gravitational waves to be $\Omega_0<1.7\times 10^{-7}$ with 95% confidence, assuming a flat energy density spectrum in the most sensitive part of the LIGO band (20-86 Hz). This is a factor of ~33 times more sensitive than previous measurements. We also constrain arbitrary power-law spectra. Finally, we investigate the implications of this search for the background of binary black holes using an astrophysical model for the background.
- Nov 24 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1611.07531v2Parameter estimates of GW150914 were obtained using Bayesian inference, based on three semi-analytic waveform models for binary black hole coalescences. These waveform models differ from each other in their treatment of black hole spins, and all three models make some simplifying assumptions, notably to neglect sub-dominant waveform harmonic modes and orbital eccentricity. Furthermore, while the models are calibrated to agree with waveforms obtained by full numerical solutions of Einstein's equations, any such calibration is accurate only to some non-zero tolerance and is limited by the accuracy of the underlying phenomenology, availability, quality, and parameter-space coverage of numerical simulations. This paper complements the original analyses of GW150914 with an investigation of the effects of possible systematic errors in the waveform models on estimates of its source parameters. To test for systematic errors we repeat the original Bayesian analyses on mock signals from numerical simulations of a series of binary configurations with parameters similar to those found for GW150914. Overall, we find no evidence for a systematic bias relative to the statistical error of the original parameter recovery of GW150914 due to modeling approximations or modeling inaccuracies. However, parameter biases are found to occur for some configurations disfavored by the data of GW150914: for binaries inclined edge-on to the detector over a small range of choices of polarization angles, and also for eccentricities greater than $\sim$0.05. For signals with higher signal-to-noise ratio than GW150914, or in other regions of the binary parameter space (lower masses, larger mass ratios, or higher spins), we expect that systematic errors in current waveform models may impact gravitational-wave measurements, making more accurate models desirable for future observations.
- Nov 24 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1611.07947v3We present the results of the search for gravitational waves (GWs) associated with $\gamma$-ray bursts detected during the first observing run of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). We find no evidence of a GW signal for any of the 41 $\gamma$-ray bursts for which LIGO data are available with sufficient duration. For all $\gamma$-ray bursts, we place lower bounds on the distance to the source using the optimistic assumption that GWs with an energy of $10^{-2}M_\odot c^2$ were emitted within the $16$-$500\,$Hz band, and we find a median 90% confidence limit of 71$\,$Mpc at 150$\,$Hz. For the subset of 19 short/hard $\gamma$-ray bursts, we place lower bounds on distance with a median 90% confidence limit of 90$\,$Mpc for binary neutron star (BNS) coalescences, and 150 and 139$\,$Mpc for neutron star-black hole coalescences with spins aligned to the orbital angular momentum and in a generic configuration, respectively. These are the highest distance limits ever achieved by GW searches. We also discuss in detail the results of the search for GWs associated with GRB 150906B, an event that was localized by the InterPlanetary Network near the local galaxy NGC 3313, which is at a luminosity distance of 54$\,$Mpc ($z=0.0124$). Assuming the $\gamma$-ray emission is beamed with a jet half-opening angle $\leq 30^{\circ}$, we exclude a BNS and a neutron star-black hole in NGC 3313 as the progenitor of this event with confidence $>99$%. Further, we exclude such progenitors up to a distance of 102$\,$Mpc and 170$\,$Mpc, respectively.
- Nov 10 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1611.02972v1We present the results from an all-sky search for short-duration gravitational waves in the data of the first run of the Advanced LIGO detectors between September 2015 and January 2016. The search algorithms use minimal assumptions on the signal morphology, so they are sensitive to a wide range of sources emitting gravitational waves. The analyses target transient signals with duration ranging from milliseconds to seconds over the frequency band of 32 to 4096 Hz. The first observed gravitational-wave event, GW150914, has been detected with high confidence in this search; other known gravitational-wave events fall below the search's sensitivity. Besides GW150914, all of the search results are consistent with the expected rate of accidental noise coincidences. Finally, we estimate rate-density limits for a broad range of non-BBH transient gravitational-wave sources as a function of their gravitational radiation emission energy and their characteristic frequency. These rate-density upper-limits are stricter than those previously published by an order-of-magnitude.
- Aug 08 2016 gr-qc arXiv:1608.01940v4The first direct gravitational-wave detection was made by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory on September 14, 2015. The GW150914 signal was strong enough to be apparent, without using any waveform model, in the filtered detector strain data. Here, features of the signal visible in the data are analyzed using concepts from Newtonian physics and general relativity, accessible to anyone with a general physics background. The simple analysis presented here is consistent with the fully general-relativistic analyses published elsewhere,in showing that the signal was produced by the inspiral and subsequent merger of two black holes. The black holes were each of approximately 35 Msun, still orbited each other as close as ~350 km apart, and subsequently merged to form a single black hole. Similar reasoning, directly from the data, is used to roughly estimate how far these black holes were from the Earth, and the energy that they radiated in gravitational waves.
- We report here the non-detection of gravitational waves from the merger of binary neutron star systems and neutron-star--black-hole systems during the first observing run of Advanced LIGO. In particular we searched for gravitational wave signals from binary neutron star systems with component masses $\in [1,3] M_{\odot}$ and component dimensionless spins $< 0.05$. We also searched for neutron-star--black-hole systems with the same neutron star parameters, black hole mass $\in [2,99] M_{\odot}$ and no restriction on the black hole spin magnitude. We assess the sensitivity of the two LIGO detectors to these systems, and find that they could have detected the merger of binary neutron star systems with component mass distributions of $1.35\pm0.13 M_{\odot}$ at a volume-weighted average distance of $\sim$ 70Mpc, and for neutron-star--black-hole systems with neutron star masses of $1.4M_\odot$ and black hole masses of at least $5M_\odot$, a volume-weighted average distance of at least $\sim$ 110Mpc. From this we constrain with 90% confidence the merger rate to be less than 12,600 Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ for binary-neutron star systems and less than 3,600 Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ for neutron-star--black-hole systems. We find that if no detection of neutron-star binary mergers is made in the next two Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo observing runs we would place significant constraints on the merger rates. Finally, assuming a rate of $10^{+20}_{-7}$Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ short gamma ray bursts beamed towards the Earth and assuming that all short gamma-ray bursts have binary-neutron-star (neutron-star--black-hole) progenitors we can use our 90% confidence rate upper limits to constrain the beaming angle of the gamma-ray burst to be greater than ${2.3^{+1.7}_{-1.1}}^{\circ}$ (${4.3^{+3.1}_{-1.9}}^{\circ}$).
- Jul 11 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1607.02216v1We describe a directed search for continuous gravitational waves in data from the sixth LIGO science run. The target was the nearby globular cluster NGC 6544 at a distance of 2.7 kpc. The search covered a broad band of frequencies along with first and second frequency derivatives for a fixed sky position. The search coherently integrated data from the two LIGO interferometers over a time span of 9.2 days using the matched-filtering F-statistic. We found no gravitational-wave signals and set 95% confidence upper limits as stringent as 6.0 X 10^-25 on intrinsic strain and 8.5 X 10^-6 on fiducial ellipticity. These values beat the indirect limits from energy conservation for stars with characteristic spindown ages older than 300 years and are within the range of theoretical predictions for possible neutron-star ellipticities. An important feature of this search was use of a barycentric resampling algorithm which substantially reduced computational cost; this method will be used extensively in searches of Advanced LIGO and Virgo detector data.
- Jun 16 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1606.04856v3The first observational run of the Advanced LIGO detectors, from September 12, 2015 to January 19, 2016, saw the first detections of gravitational waves from binary black hole mergers. In this paper we present full results from a search for binary black hole merger signals with total masses up to $100 M_\odot$ and detailed implications from our observations of these systems. Our search, based on general-relativistic models of gravitational wave signals from binary black hole systems, unambiguously identified two signals, GW150914 and GW151226, with a significance of greater than $5\sigma$ over the observing period. It also identified a third possible signal, LVT151012, with substantially lower significance, and with an 87% probability of being of astrophysical origin. We provide detailed estimates of the parameters of the observed systems. Both GW150914 and GW151226 provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the two-body motion of a compact-object binary in the large velocity, highly nonlinear regime. We do not observe any deviations from general relativity, and place improved empirical bounds on several high-order post-Newtonian coefficients. From our observations we infer stellar-mass binary black hole merger rates lying in the range $9-240 \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$. These observations are beginning to inform astrophysical predictions of binary black hole formation rates, and indicate that future observing runs of the Advanced detector network will yield many more gravitational wave detections.
- We compare GW150914 directly to simulations of coalescing binary black holes in full general relativity, accounting for all the spin-weighted quadrupolar modes, and separately accounting for all the quadrupolar and octopolar modes. Consistent with the posterior distributions reported in LVC_PE[1] (at 90% confidence), we find the data are compatible with a wide range of nonprecessing and precessing simulations. Followup simulations performed using previously-estimated binary parameters most resemble the data. Comparisons including only the quadrupolar modes constrain the total redshifted mass Mz ∈[64 - 82M_⊙], mass ratio q = m2/m1 ∈[0.6,1], and effective aligned spin \chi_eff ∈[-0.3, 0.2], where \chi_eff = (S1/m1 + S2/m2) ⋅\hatL /M. Including both quadrupolar and octopolar modes, we find the mass ratio is even more tightly constrained. Simulations with extreme mass ratios and effective spins are highly inconsistent with the data, at any mass. Several nonprecessing and precessing simulations with similar mass ratio and \chi_eff are consistent with the data. Though correlated, the components' spins (both in magnitude and directions) are not significantly constrained by the data. For nonprecessing binaries, interpolating between simulations, we reconstruct a posterior distribution consistent with previous results. The final black hole's redshifted mass is consistent with Mf,z between 64.0 - 73.5M_⊙and the final black hole's dimensionless spin parameter is consistent with af = 0.62 - 0.73. As our approach invokes no intermediate approximations to general relativity and can strongly reject binaries whose radiation is inconsistent with the data, our analysis provides a valuable complement to LVC_PE[1].
- Jun 06 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1606.01210v1This paper presents updated estimates of source parameters for GW150914, a binary black-hole coalescence event detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) on September 14, 2015 [1]. Reference presented parameter estimation [2] of the source using a 13-dimensional, phenomenological precessing-spin model (precessing IMRPhenom) and a 11-dimensional nonprecessing effective-one-body (EOB) model calibrated to numerical-relativity simulations, which forces spin alignment (nonprecessing EOBNR). Here we present new results that include a 15-dimensional precessing-spin waveform model (precessing EOBNR) developed within the EOB formalism. We find good agreement with the parameters estimated previously [2], and we quote updated component masses of $35^{+5}_{-3}\mathrm{M}_\odot$ and $30^{+3}_{-4}\mathrm{M}_\odot$ (where errors correspond to 90% symmetric credible intervals). We also present slightly tighter constraints on the dimensionless spin magnitudes of the two black holes, with a primary spin estimate $0.65$ and a secondary spin estimate $0.75$ at 90% probability. Reference [2] estimated the systematic parameter-extraction errors due to waveform-model uncertainty by combining the posterior probability densities of precessing IMRPhenom and nonprecessing EOBNR. Here we find that the two precessing-spin models are in closer agreement, suggesting that these systematic errors are smaller than previously quoted.
- May 12 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1605.03233v2We report on a comprehensive all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 100-1500 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of $[-1.18, +1.00]\times 10^{-8}$ Hz/s. Such a signal could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from the Initial LIGO sixth science run and covers a larger parameter space with respect to any past search. A Loosely Coherent detection pipeline was applied to follow up weak outliers in both Gaussian (95% recovery rate) and non-Gaussian (75% recovery rate) bands. No gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strength. Our smallest upper limit on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude $h_0$ is ${9.7}\times 10^{-25}$ near 169 Hz, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of ${5.5}\times 10^{-24}$. Both cases refer to all sky locations and entire range of frequency derivative values.
- May 09 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1605.01785v2We present results from a search for gravitational-wave bursts coincident with a set of two core-collapse supernovae observed between 2007 and 2011. We employ data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), the Virgo gravitational-wave observatory, and the GEO 600 gravitational-wave observatory. The targeted core-collapse supernovae were selected on the basis of (1) proximity (within approximately 15 Mpc), (2) tightness of observational constraints on the time of core collapse that defines the gravitational-wave search window, and (3) coincident operation of at least two interferometers at the time of core collapse. We find no plausible gravitational-wave candidates. We present the probability of detecting signals from both astrophysically well-motivated and more speculative gravitational-wave emission mechanisms as a function of distance from Earth, and discuss the implications for the detection of gravitational waves from core-collapse supernovae by the upgraded Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors.
- Apr 28 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1604.07864v3This Supplement provides supporting material for arXiv:1602.08492 . We briefly summarize past electromagnetic (EM) follow-up efforts as well as the organization and policy of the current EM follow-up program. We compare the four probability sky maps produced for the gravitational-wave transient GW150914, and provide additional details of the EM follow-up observations that were performed in the different bands.
- Mar 25 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1603.07333v4The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) discovered gravitational waves (GWs) from a binary black hole merger in 2015 September and may soon observe signals from neutron star mergers. There is considerable interest in searching for their faint and rapidly fading electromagnetic (EM) counterparts, though GW position uncertainties are as coarse as hundreds of square degrees. Because LIGO's sensitivity to binary neutron stars is limited to the local universe, the area on the sky that must be searched could be reduced by weighting positions by mass, luminosity, or star formation in nearby galaxies. Since GW observations provide information about luminosity distance, combining the reconstructed volume with positions and redshifts of galaxies could reduce the area even more dramatically. A key missing ingredient has been a rapid GW parameter estimation algorithm that reconstructs the full distribution of sky location and distance. We demonstrate the first such algorithm, which takes under a minute, fast enough to enable immediate EM follow-up. By combining the three-dimensional posterior with a galaxy catalog, we can reduce the number of galaxies that could conceivably host the event by a factor of 1.4, the total exposure time for the Swift X-ray Telescope by a factor of 2, the total exposure time for a synoptic optical survey by a factor of 2, and the total exposure time for a narrow-field optical telescope by a factor of 3. This encourages us to suggest a new role for small field of view optical instruments in performing targeted searches of the most massive galaxies within the reconstructed volumes.
- Mar 01 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1602.08492v4A gravitational-wave (GW) transient was identified in data recorded by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors on 2015 September 14. The event, initially designated G184098 and later given the name GW150914, is described in detail elsewhere. By prior arrangement, preliminary estimates of the time, significance, and sky location of the event were shared with 63 teams of observers covering radio, optical, near-infrared, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths with ground- and space-based facilities. In this Letter we describe the low-latency analysis of the GW data and present the sky localization of the first observed compact binary merger. We summarize the follow-up observations reported by 25 teams via private Gamma-ray Coordinates Network circulars, giving an overview of the participating facilities, the GW sky localization coverage, the timeline and depth of the observations. As this event turned out to be a binary black hole merger, there is little expectation of a detectable electromagnetic (EM) signature. Nevertheless, this first broadband campaign to search for a counterpart of an Advanced LIGO source represents a milestone and highlights the broad capabilities of the transient astronomy community and the observing strategies that have been developed to pursue neutron star binary merger events. Detailed investigations of the EM data and results of the EM follow-up campaign are being disseminated in papers by the individual teams.
- In Advanced LIGO, detection and astrophysical source parameter estimation of the binary black hole merger GW150914 requires a calibrated estimate of the gravitational-wave strain sensed by the detectors. Producing an estimate from each detector's differential arm length control loop readout signals requires applying time domain filters, which are designed from a frequency domain model of the detector's gravitational-wave response. The gravitational-wave response model is determined by the detector's opto-mechanical response and the properties of its feedback control system. The measurements used to validate the model and characterize its uncertainty are derived primarily from a dedicated photon radiation pressure actuator, with cross-checks provided by optical and radio frequency references. We describe how the gravitational-wave readout signal is calibrated into equivalent gravitational-wave-induced strain and how the statistical uncertainties and systematic errors are assessed. Detector data collected over 38 calendar days, from September 12 to October 20, 2015, contain the event GW150914 and approximately 16 of coincident data used to estimate the event false alarm probability. The calibration uncertainty is less than 10% in magnitude and 10 degrees in phase across the relevant frequency band 20 Hz to 1 kHz.
- Feb 12 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1602.03840v2On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected a gravitational-wave transient (GW150914); we characterize the properties of the source and its parameters. The data around the time of the event were analyzed coherently across the LIGO network using a suite of accurate waveform models that describe gravitational waves from a compact binary system in general relativity. GW150914 was produced by a nearly equal mass binary black hole of $36^{+5}_{-4} M_\odot$ and $29^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$; for each parameter we report the median value and the range of the 90% credible interval. The dimensionless spin magnitude of the more massive black hole is bound to be $<0.7$ (at 90% probability). The luminosity distance to the source is $410^{+160}_{-180}$ Mpc, corresponding to a redshift $0.09^{+0.03}_{-0.04}$ assuming standard cosmology. The source location is constrained to an annulus section of $610$ deg$^2$, primarily in the southern hemisphere. The binary merges into a black hole of $62^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$ and spin $0.67^{+0.05}_{-0.07}$. This black hole is significantly more massive than any other inferred from electromagnetic observations in the stellar-mass regime.
- On September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) simultaneously observed the binary black hole merger GW150914. We report the results of a matched-filter search using relativistic models of compact-object binaries that recovered GW150914 as the most significant event during the coincident observations between the two LIGO detectors from September 12 to October 20, 2015. GW150914 was observed with a matched filter signal-to-noise ratio of 24 and a false alarm rate estimated to be less than 1 event per 203 000 years, equivalent to a significance greater than 5.1 \sigma.
- Feb 12 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1602.03842v3A transient gravitational-wave signal, GW150914, was identified in the twin Advanced LIGO detectors on September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. To assess the implications of this discovery, the detectors remained in operation with unchanged configurations over a period of 39 d around the time of the signal. At the detection statistic threshold corresponding to that observed for GW150914, our search of the 16 days of simultaneous two-detector observational data is estimated to have a false alarm rate (FAR) of $< 4.9 \times 10^{-6} \, \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$, yielding a $p$-value for GW150914 of $< 2 \times 10^{-7}$. Parameter estimation followup on this trigger identifies its source as a binary black hole (BBH) merger with component masses $(m_1, m_2) = \left(36^{+5}_{-4},29^{+4}_{-4}\right) \, M_\odot$ at redshift $z = 0.09^{+0.03}_{-0.04}$ (median and 90\% credible range). Here we report on the constraints these observations place on the rate of BBH coalescences. Considering only GW150914, assuming that all BBHs in the Universe have the same masses and spins as this event, imposing a search FAR threshold of 1 per 100 years, and assuming that the BBH merger rate is constant in the comoving frame, we infer a 90% credible range of merger rates between $2$--$53 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$ (comoving frame). Incorporating all search triggers that pass a much lower threshold while accounting for the uncertainty in the astrophysical origin of each trigger, we estimate a higher rate, ranging from $13$--$600 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$ depending on assumptions about the BBH mass distribution. All together, our various rate estimates fall in the conservative range $2$--$600 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$.
- We present the results of a search for long-duration gravitational wave transients in two sets of data collected by the LIGO Hanford and LIGO Livingston detectors between November 5, 2005 and September 30, 2007, and July 7, 2009 and October 20, 2010, with a total observational time of 283.0 days and 132.9 days, respectively. The search targets gravitational wave transients of duration 10 - 500 s in a frequency band of 40 - 1000 Hz, with minimal assumptions about the signal waveform, polarization, source direction, or time of occurrence. All candidate triggers were consistent with the expected background; as a result we set 90% confidence upper limits on the rate of long-duration gravitational wave transients for different types of gravitational wave signals. For signals from black hole accretion disk instabilities, we set upper limits on the source rate density between $3.4 \times 10^{-5}$ - $9.4 \times 10^{-4}$ Mpc$^{-3}$ yr$^{-1}$ at 90% confidence. These are the first results from an all-sky search for unmodeled long-duration transient gravitational waves.
- Oct 16 2015 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1510.04615v3We compare evolutionary predictions of double compact object merger rate densities with initial and forthcoming LIGO/Virgo upper limits. We find that: (i) Due to the cosmological reach of advanced detectors, current conversion methods of population synthesis predictions into merger rate densities are insufficient. (ii) Our optimistic models are a factor of 18 below the initial LIGO/Virgo upper limits for BH-BH systems, indicating that a modest increase in observational sensitivity (by a factor of 2.5) may bring the first detections or first gravitational wave constraints on binary evolution. (iii) Stellar-origin massive BH-BH mergers should dominate event rates in advanced LIGO/Virgo and can be detected out to redshift z=2 with templates including inspiral, merger, and ringdown. Normal stars (<150 Msun) can produce such mergers with total redshifted mass up to 400 Msun. (iv) High black hole natal kicks can severely limit the formation of massive BH-BH systems (both in isolated binary and in dynamical dense cluster evolution), and thus would eliminate detection of these systems even at full advanced LIGO/Virgo sensitivity. We find that low and high black hole natal kicks are allowed by current observational electromagnetic constraints. (v) The majority of our models yield detections of all types of mergers (NS-NS, BH-NS, BH-BH) with advanced detectors. Numerous massive BH-BH merger detections will indicate small (if any) natal kicks for massive BHs.
- Fast and effective localization of gravitational wave (GW) events could play a crucial role in identifying possible electromagnetic counterparts, and thereby help usher in an era of GW multi-messenger astronomy. We discuss an algorithm for accurate and very low latency ($<$ 1 second) localization of GW sources using only the relative times of arrival, relative phases, and relative signal-to-noise ratios for pairs of detectors. The algorithm is independent of distances and masses to leading order, and can be generalized to all discrete sources detected by ground-based detector networks. Our approach, while developed independently, is similar to that of BAYESTAR with a few modifications in the algorithm which result in increased computational efficiency. For the LIGO two detector configuration (Hanford+Livingston) expected in late 2015 we find a median 50\% (90\%) localization of 143 deg$^2$ (558 deg$^2$) for binary neutron stars (for network SNR threshold of 12, corresponding to a horizon distance of $\sim 130$ Mpc), consistent with previous findings. We explore the improvement in localization resulting from high SNR events, finding that the loudest out of the first 4 (or 10) events reduces the median sky localization area by a factor of 1.9 (3.0) for the case of 2 GW detectors, and 2.2 (4.0) for 3 detectors. We consider the case of multi-messenger joint detections in both the GW and the electromagnetic (EM) spectra. We specifically explore the case of independent, and possibly highly uncertain, localizations, showing that the joint localization area is significantly reduced. We also show that a prior on the binary inclination, potentially arising from GRB observations, has a negligible effect on GW localization. Our algorithm is simple, fast, and accurate, and may be of particular utility in the development of multi-messenger astronomy.
- As first emphasized by Bernard Schutz, there exists a universal distribution of signal-to-noise ratios for gravitational wave detection. Because gravitational waves (GWs) are almost impossible to obscure via dust absorption or other astrophysical processes, the strength of the detected signal is dictated solely by the emission strength and the distance to the source. Assuming that the space density of an arbitrary population of GW sources does not evolve, we show explicitly that the distribution of detected signal-to-noise (SNR) values depends solely on the detection threshold; it is independent of the detector network (interferometer or pulsar timing array), the individual detector noise curves (initial or Advanced LIGO), the nature of the GW sources (compact binary coalescence, supernova, or some other discrete source), and the distributions of source variables (only non-spinning neutron stars of mass exactly $1.4\,M_\odot$ or a complicated distribution of masses and spins). We derive the SNR distribution for each individual detector within a network as a function of the relative detector orientations and sensitivities. While most detections will have SNR near the detection threshold, there will be a tail of events to higher SNR. We derive the SNR distribution of the loudest (highest SNR) events in any given sample of detections. We find that the median SNR of the loudest out of the first four events should have an $\mbox{SNR}=22$ (for a threshold of 12, appropriate for the Advanced LIGO/Virgo network), increasing to a median value for the loudest SNR of 47 for 40 detections. We expect these loudest events to provide particularly powerful constraints on their source parameters, and they will play an important role in extracting astrophysics from gravitational wave sources. These distributions also offer an important internal calibration of the response of the GW detector networks.
- May 28 2014 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1405.7016v2The unprecedented range of second-generation gravitational-wave (GW) observatories calls for refining the predictions of potential sources and detection rates. The coalescence of double compact objects (DCOs)---i.e., neutron star-neutron star (NS-NS), black hole-neutron star (BH-NS), and black hole-black hole (BH-BH) binary systems---is the most promising source of GWs for these detectors. We compute detection rates of coalescing DCOs in second-generation GW detectors using the latest models for their cosmological evolution, and implementing inspiral-merger-ringdown (IMR) gravitational waveform models in our signal-to-noise ratio calculations. We find that: (1) the inclusion of the merger/ringdown portion of the signal does not significantly affect rates for NS-NS and BH-NS systems, but it boosts rates by a factor $\sim 1.5$ for BH-BH systems; (2) in almost all of our models BH-BH systems yield by far the largest rates, followed by NS-NS and BH-NS systems, respectively, and (3) a majority of the detectable BH-BH systems were formed in the early Universe in low-metallicity environments. We make predictions for the distributions of detected binaries and discuss what the first GW detections will teach us about the astrophysics underlying binary formation and evolution.
- Aug 08 2013 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1308.1546v3The development of advanced gravitational wave (GW) observatories, such as Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo, provides impetus to refine theoretical predictions for what these instruments might detect. In particular, with the range increasing by an order of magnitude, the search for GW sources is extending beyond the "local" Universe and out to cosmological distances. Double compact objects (neutron star-neutron star (NS-NS), black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) and black hole-black hole (BH-BH) systems) are considered to be the most promising gravitational wave sources. In addition, NS-NS and/or BH-NS systems are thought to be the progenitors of gamma ray bursts (GRBs), and may also be associated with kilonovae. In this paper we present the merger event rates of these objects as a function of cosmological redshift. We provide the results for four cases, each one investigating a different important evolution parameter of binary stars. Each case is also presented for two metallicity evolution scenarios. We find that (i) in most cases NS-NS systems dominate the merger rates in the local Universe, while BH-BH mergers dominate at high redshift; (ii) BH-NS mergers are less frequent than other sources per unit volume, for all time; and (iii) natal kicks may alter the observable properties of populations in a significant way, allowing the underlying models of binary evolution and compact object formation to be easily distinguished. This is the second paper in a series of three. The third paper will focus on calculating the detection rates of mergers by gravitational wave telescopes.
- Recent observations have accumulated compelling evidence that some short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) are associated with the mergers of neutron star (NS) binaries. This would indicate that the SGRB event is associated with a gravitational-wave (GW) signal corresponding to the final inspiral of the compact binary. In addition, the radioactive decay of elements produced in NS binary mergers may result in transients visible in the optical and infrared with peak luminosities on hours-days timescales. Simultaneous observations of the inspiral GWs and signatures in the electromagnetic band may allow us to directly and independently determine both the luminosity distance and redshift to a binary. These standard sirens (the GW analog of standard candles) have the potential to provide an accurate measurement of the low-redshift Hubble flow. In addition, these systems are absolutely calibrated by general relativity, and therefore do not experience the same set of astrophysical systematics found in traditional standard candles, nor do the measurements rely on a distance ladder. We show that 15 observable GW and EM events should allow the Hubble constant to be measured with 5% precision using a network of detectors that includes advanced LIGO and Virgo. Measuring 30 beamed GW-SGRB events could constrain H_0 to better than 1%. When comparing to standard Gaussian likelihood analysis, we find that each event's non-Gaussian posterior in H_0 helps reduce the overall measurement errors in H_0 for an ensemble of NS binary mergers.
- May 27 2013 astro-ph.CO gr-qc arXiv:1305.5720v1The last century has seen enormous progress in our understanding of the Universe. We know the life cycles of stars, the structure of galaxies, the remnants of the big bang, and have a general understanding of how the Universe evolved. We have come remarkably far using electromagnetic radiation as our tool for observing the Universe. However, gravity is the engine behind many of the processes in the Universe, and much of its action is dark. Opening a gravitational window on the Universe will let us go further than any alternative. Gravity has its own messenger: Gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. They travel essentially undisturbed and let us peer deep into the formation of the first seed black holes, exploring redshifts as large as z ~ 20, prior to the epoch of cosmic re-ionisation. Exquisite and unprecedented measurements of black hole masses and spins will make it possible to trace the history of black holes across all stages of galaxy evolution, and at the same time constrain any deviation from the Kerr metric of General Relativity. eLISA will be the first ever mission to study the entire Universe with gravitational waves. eLISA is an all-sky monitor and will offer a wide view of a dynamic cosmos using gravitational waves as new and unique messengers to unveil The Gravitational Universe. It provides the closest ever view of the early processes at TeV energies, has guaranteed sources in the form of verification binaries in the Milky Way, and can probe the entire Universe, from its smallest scales around singularities and black holes, all the way to cosmological dimensions.
- Apr 03 2013 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1304.0670v6We present possible observing scenarios for the Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo and KAGRA gravitational-wave detectors over the next decade, with the intention of providing information to the astronomy community to facilitate planning for multi-messenger astronomy with gravitational waves. We estimate the sensitivity of the network to transient gravitational-wave signals, and study the capability of the network to determine the sky location of the source. We report our findings for gravitational-wave transients, with particular focus on gravitational-wave signals from the inspiral of binary neutron star systems, which are the most promising targets for multi-messenger astronomy. The ability to localize the sources of the detected signals depends on the geographical distribution of the detectors and their relative sensitivity, and 90% credible regions can be as large as thousands of square degrees when only two sensitive detectors are operational. Determining the sky position of a significant fraction of detected signals to areas of 5-20 square degrees requires at least three detectors of sensitivity within a factor of ~2 of each other and with a broad frequency bandwidth. When all detectors, including KAGRA and the third LIGO detector in India, reach design sensitivity, a significant fraction of gravitational-wave signals will be localized to a few square degrees by gravitational-wave observations alone.
- Jun 05 2012 astro-ph.CO gr-qc arXiv:1206.0703v1Using the observed rate of short-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) it is possible to make predictions for the detectable rate of compact binary coalescences in gravitational-wave detectors. These estimates rely crucially on the growing consensus that short gamma-ray bursts are associated with the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole, but otherwise make no assumptions beyond the observed rate of short GRBs. In particular, our results do not assume coincident gravitational wave and electromagnetic observations. We show that the non-detection of mergers in the existing LIGO/Virgo data constrains the progenitor masses and beaming angles of gamma-ray bursts. For future detectors, we find that the first detection of a NS-NS binary coalescence associated with the progenitors of short GRBs is likely to happen within the first 16 months of observation, even in the case of a modest network of observatories (e.g., only LIGO-Hanford and LIGO-Livingston) operating at modest sensitivities (e.g., advanced LIGO design sensitivity, but without signal recycling mirrors), and assuming a conservative distribution of beaming angles (e.g. all GRBs beamed at \theta=30 deg). Less conservative assumptions reduce the waiting time until first detection to weeks to months. Alternatively, the compact binary coalescence model of short GRBs can be ruled out if a binary is not seen within the first two years of operation of a LIGO-Hanford, LIGO-Livingston, and Virgo network at advanced design sensitivity. We also demonstrate that the rate of GRB triggered sources is less than the rate of untriggered events if \theta<30 deg, independent of the noise curve, network configuration, and observed GRB rate. Thus the first detection in GWs of a binary GRB progenitor is unlikely to be associated with a GRB.
- Feb 23 2012 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1202.4901v2The last decade of observational and theoretical developments in stellar and binary evolution provides an opportunity to incorporate major improvements to the predictions from populations synthesis models. We compute the Galactic merger rates for NS-NS, BH-NS, and BH-BH mergers with the StarTrack code. The most important revisions include: updated wind mass loss rates (allowing for stellar mass black holes up to $80 \msun$), a realistic treatment of the common envelope phase (a process that can affect merger rates by 2--3 orders of magnitude), and a qualitatively new neutron star/black hole mass distribution (consistent with the observed "mass gap"). Our findings include: (i) The binding energy of the envelope plays a pivotal role in determining whether a binary merges within a Hubble time. (ii) Our description of natal kicks from supernovae plays an important role, especially for the formation of BH-BH systems. (iii) The masses of BH-BH systems can be substantially increased in the case of low metallicities or weak winds. (iv) Certain combinations of parameters underpredict the Galactic NS-NS merger rate, and can be ruled out. \em (v) Models incorporating delayed supernovae do not agree with the observed NS/BH "mass gap", in accordance with our previous work. This is the first in a series of three papers. The second paper will study the merger rates of double compact objects as a function of redshift, star formation rate, and metallicity. In the third paper we will present the detection rates for gravitational wave observatories, using up-to-date signal waveforms and sensitivity curves.
- The inspirals and mergers of compact binaries are among the most promising events for ground-based gravitational-wave (GW) observatories. The detection of electromagnetic (EM) signals from these sources would provide complementary information to the GW signal. It is therefore important to determine the ability of gravitational-wave detectors to localize compact binaries on the sky, so that they can be matched to their EM counterparts. We use Markov Chain Monte Carlo techniques to study sky localization using networks of ground-based interferometers. Using a coherent-network analysis, we find that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO)-Virgo network can localize 50% of their ~8 sigma detected neutron star binaries to better than 50 sq.deg. with 95% confidence region. The addition of the Large Scale Cryogenic Gravitational Wave Telescope (LCGT) and LIGO-Australia improves this to 12 sq.deg.. Using a more conservative coincident detection threshold, we find that 50% of detected neutron star binaries are localized to 13 sq.deg. using the LIGO-Virgo network, and to 3 sq.deg. using the LIGO-Virgo-LCGT-LIGO-Australia network. Our findings suggest that the coordination of GW observatories and EM facilities offers great promise.
- Jun 23 2009 astro-ph.CO gr-qc arXiv:0906.3752v1We show that the Big Bang Observer (BBO), a proposed space-based gravitational-wave (GW) detector, would provide ultra-precise measurements of cosmological parameters. By detecting ~300,000 compact-star binaries, and utilizing them as standard sirens, BBO would determine the Hubble constant to 0.1%, and the dark energy parameters w_0 and w_a to ~0.01 and 0.1,resp. BBO's dark-energy figure-of-merit would be approximately an order of magnitude better than all other proposed dark energy missions. To date, BBO has been designed with the primary goal of searching for gravitational waves from inflation. To observe this inflationary background, BBO would first have to detect and subtract out ~300,000 merging compact-star binaries, out to z~5. It is precisely this foreground which would enable high-precision cosmology. BBO would determine the luminosity distance to each binary to ~percent accuracy. BBO's angular resolution would be sufficient to uniquely identify the host galaxy for most binaries; a coordinated optical/infrared observing campaign could obtain the redshifts. Combining the GW-derived distances and EM-derived redshifts for such a large sample of objects leads to extraordinarily tight constraints on cosmological parameters. Such ``standard siren'' measurements of cosmology avoid many of the systematic errors associated with other techniques. We also show that BBO would be an exceptionally powerful gravitational lensing mission, and we briefly discuss other astronomical uses of BBO.
- Apr 08 2009 astro-ph.CO gr-qc arXiv:0904.1017v2Recent observations support the hypothesis that a large fraction of "short-hard" gamma-ray bursts (SHBs) are associated with compact binary inspiral. Since gravitational-wave (GW) measurements of well-localized inspiraling binaries can measure absolute source distances, simultaneous observation of a binary's GWs and SHB would allow us to independently determine both its luminosity distance and redshift. Such a "standard siren" (the GW analog of a standard candle) would provide an excellent probe of the relatively nearby universe's expansion, complementing other standard candles. In this paper, we examine binary measurement using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique to build the probability distributions describing measured parameters. We assume that each SHB observation gives both sky position and the time of coalescence, and we take both binary neutron stars and black hole-neutron star coalescences as plausible SHB progenitors. We examine how well parameters particularly distance) can be measured from GW observations of SHBs by a range of ground-based detector networks. We find that earlier estimates overstate how well distances can be measured, even at fairly large signal-to-noise ratio. The fundamental limitation to determining distance proves to be a degeneracy between distance and source inclination. Overcoming this limitation requires that we either break this degeneracy, or measure enough sources to broadly sample the inclination distribution. (Abridged)
- It is widely expected that the coming decade will witness the first direct detection of gravitational waves (GWs). The ground-based LIGO and Virgo GW observatories are being upgraded to advanced sensitivity, and are expected to observe a significant binary merger rate. The launch of The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) would extend the GW window to low frequencies, opening new vistas on dynamical processes involving massive (M >~ 10^5 M_Sun) black holes. GW events are likely to be accompanied by electromagnetic (EM) counterparts and, since information carried electromagnetically is complementary to that carried gravitationally, a great deal can be learned about an event and its environment if it becomes possible to measure both forms of radiation in concert. Measurements of this kind will mark the dawn of trans-spectral astrophysics, bridging two distinct spectral bands of information. The aim of this whitepaper is to articulate future directions in both theory and observation that are likely to impact broad astrophysical inquiries of general interest. What will EM observations reflect on the nature and diversity of GW sources? Can GW sources be exploited as complementary probes of cosmology? What cross-facility coordination will expand the science returns of gravitational and electromagnetic observations?
- We apply a parameterization-independent approach to fitting the dark energy equation-of-state (EOS). Utilizing the latest type Ia supernova data, combined with results from the cosmic microwave background and baryon acoustic oscillations, we find that the dark energy is consistent with a cosmological constant. We establish independent estimates of the evolution of the dark energy EOS by diagonalizing the covariance matrix. We find three independent constraints, which taken together imply that the equation of state is more negative than -0.2 at the 68% confidence level in the redshift range 0<z<1.8, independent of the flat universe assumption. Our estimates argue against previous claims of dark energy ``metamorphosis,'' where the EOS was found to be strongly varying at low redshifts. Our results are inconsistent with extreme models of dynamical dark energy, both in the form of ``freezing'' models where the dark energy EOS begins with a value greater than -0.2 at z > 1.2 and rolls to a value of -1 today, and ``thawing'' models where the EOS is near -1 at high redshifts, but rapidly evolves to values greater than -0.85 at z < 0.2. Finally, we propose a parameterization-independent figure-of-merit, to help assess the ability of future surveys to constrain dark energy. While previous figures-of-merit presume specific dark energy parameterizations, we suggest a binning approach to evaluate dark energy constraints with a minimum number of assumptions.
- Observations of the gravitational radiation from well-localized, inspiraling compact object binaries can measure absolute source distances with high accuracy. When coupled with an independent determination of redshift through an electromagnetic counterpart, these standard sirens can provide an excellent probe of the expansion history of the Universe and the dark energy. Short gamma-ray bursts, if produced by merging neutron star binaries, would be standard sirens with known redshifts detectable by ground-based GW networks such as LIGO-II, Virgo, and AIGO. Depending upon the collimation of these GRBs, a single year of observation of their gravitational waves can measure the Hubble constant to about 2%. When combined with measurement of the absolute distance to the last scattering surface of the cosmic microwave background, this determines the dark energy equation of state parameter w to 9%. Similarly, supermassive binary black hole inspirals will be standard sirens detectable by LISA. Depending upon the precise redshift distribution, 100 sources could measure w at the 4% level.
- Gravitational waves (GWs) from supermassive binary black hole (BBH) inspirals are potentially powerful standard sirens (the GW analog to standard candles) (Schutz 1986, 2002). Because these systems are well-modeled, the space-based GW observatory LISA will be able to measure the luminosity distance (but not the redshift) to some distant massive BBH systems with 1-10% accuracy. This accuracy is largely limited by pointing error: GW sources generally are poorly localized on the sky. Localizing the binary independently (e.g., through association with an electromagnetic counterpart) greatly reduces this positional error. An electromagnetic counterpart may also allow determination of the event's redshift. In this case, BBH coalescence would constitute an extremely precise (better than 1%) standard candle visible to high redshift. In practice, gravitational lensing degrades this precision, though the candle remains precise enough to provide useful information about the distance-redshift relation. Even if very rare, these GW standard sirens would complement, and increase confidence in, other standard candles.
- Gravitational waves from the coalescence of binary black holes carry linear momentum, causing center of mass recoil. This ``radiation rocket'' has important implications for systems with escape speeds of order the recoil velocity. We describe new recoil calculations using high precision black hole perturbation theory to estimate the magnitude of the recoil for the slow ``inspiral'' coalescence phase; coupled with a cruder calculation for the final ``plunge'', we estimate the total recoil imparted to a merged black hole. We find that velocities of many tens to a few hundred km/sec can be achieved fairly easily. The recoil probably never exceeds about 500 km/sec.
- The collapse of massive stars not only produces observable outbursts across the entire electromagnetic spectrum but, for Galactic (or near-Galactic) supernovae, detectable signals for ground-based neutrino and gravitational wave detectors. Gravitational waves and neutrinos provide the only means to study the actual engine behind the optical outbursts: the collapsed stellar core. While the neutrinos are most sensitive to details of the equation of state, gravitational waves provide a means to study the mass asymmetries in this central core. We present gravitational wave signals from a series of 3-dimensional core-collapse simulations with asymmetries derived from initial perturbations caused by pre-collapse convection, core rotation, and low-mode convection in the explosion engine itself. A Galactic supernovae will allow us to differentiate these different sources of asymmetry. Combining this signal with other observations of the supernova, from neutrinos to gamma-rays to the compact remnant, dramatically increases the predictive power of the gravitational wave signal. We conclude with a discussion of the gravitational wave signal arising from collapsars, the leading engine for long-duration gamma-ray bursts.
- Coalescing binary black holes experience an impulsive kick due to anisotropic emission of gravitational waves. We discuss the dynamical consequences of the recoil accompanying massive black hole mergers. Recoil velocities are sufficient to eject most coalescing black holes from dwarf galaxies and globular clusters, which may explain the apparent absence of massive black holes in these systems. Ejection from giant elliptical galaxies would be rare, but coalescing black holes are displaced from the center and fall back on a time scale of order the half-mass crossing time. Displacement of the black holes transfers energy to the stars in the nucleus and can convert a steep density cusp into a core. Radiation recoil calls into question models that grow supermassive black holes from hierarchical mergers of stellar-mass precursors.
- Gravitational waves from the coalescence of binary black holes carry away linear momentum, causing center of mass recoil. This "radiation rocket" effect has important implications for systems with escape speeds of order the recoil velocity. We revisit this problem using black hole perturbation theory, treating the binary as a test mass spiraling into a spinning hole. For extreme mass ratios (q = m1/m2 << 1) we compute the recoil for the slow inspiral epoch of binary coalescence very accurately; these results can be extrapolated to q ~ 0.4 with modest accuracy. Although the recoil from the final plunge contributes significantly to the final recoil, we are only able to make crude estimates of its magnitude. We find that the recoil can easily reach ~ 100-200 km/s, but most likely does not exceed ~ 500 km/s. Though much lower than previous estimates, this recoil is large enough to have important astrophysical consequences. These include the ejection of black holes from globular clusters, dwarf galaxies, and high-redshift dark matter halos.
- The gravitational waves generated in the coalescence of massive binary black holes will be measurable by LISA to enormous distances. Redshifts z~10 or larger (depending somewhat on the mass of the binary) can potentially be probed by such measurements, suggesting that binary coalescences can be made into cosmological tools. We discuss two particularly interesting types of probes. First, by combining gravitational-wave measurements with information about the universe's cosmography, we can study the evolution of black hole masses and merger rates as a function of redshift, providing information about the growth of structures at high redshift and possibly constraining hierarchical merger scenarios. Second, if it is possible to associate an ``electromagnetic'' counterpart with a coalescence, it may be possible to measure both redshift and luminosity distance to an event with less than ~1% error. Such a measurement would constitute an amazingly precise cosmological standard candle. Unfortunately, gravitational lensing uncertainties will reduce the quality of this candle significantly. Though not as amazing as might have been hoped, such a candle would nonetheless very usefully complement other distance-redshift probes, in particular providing a valuable check on systematic effects in such measurements.
- The new generation of gravitational wave (GW) detectors have the potential to open a novel window onto the violent dynamics of core collapse. Although it is certain that core collapse events generate gravitational radiation, understanding the characteristics of the radiation -- whether it can be measured with these detectors, and the best way to go about doing so -- is a challenging problem. In this chapter we review the promise of GWs as observational probes, including a discussion of the current state of GW detectors, and discuss the status of work to understand the waves generated by stellar core collapse.
- Shine a flashlight on a black hole, and one is greeted with the return of a series of concentric rings of light. For a point source of light, and for perfect alignment of the lens, source, and observer, the rings are of infinite brightness (in the limit of geometric optics). In this manner, distant black holes can be revealed through their reflection of light from the Sun. Such retro-MACHO events involve photons leaving the Sun, making a Pi rotation about the black hole, and then returning to be detected at the Earth. Our calculations show that, although the light return is quite small, it may nonetheless be detectable for stellar-mass black holes at the edge of our solar system. For example, all (unobscured) black holes of mass M or greater will be observable to a limiting magnitude m, at a distance given by: 0.02 pc x \sqrt[3]10^(m-30)/2.5 (M/10 M_sun)^2. Discovery of a Retro-MACHO offers a way to directly image the presence of a black hole, and would be a stunning confirmation of strong-field general relativity.