A Caltech Library Service

New Spin on LIGO-Virgo Binary Black Holes

Biscoveanu, Sylvia and Isi, Maximiliano and Vitale, Salvatore and Varma, Vijay (2021) New Spin on LIGO-Virgo Binary Black Holes. Physical Review Letters, 126 (17). Art. No. 171103. ISSN 0031-9007. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.126.171103.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF (contain analysis details like prior ranges and functional forms. We also include a discussion of additional features of the individual-event results and present spin disk plots) - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Gravitational waves from binary black holes have the potential to yield information on both of the intrinsic parameters that characterize the compact objects: their masses and spins. While the component masses are usually resolvable, the component spins have proven difficult to measure. This limitation stems in great part from our choice to inquire about the spins of the most and least massive objects in each binary, a question that becomes ill defined when the masses are equal. In this Letter, we show that one can ask a different question of the data: what are the spins of the objects with the highest and lowest dimensionless spins in the binary? We show that this can significantly improve estimates of the individual spins, especially for binary systems with comparable masses. When applying this parametrization to the first 13 gravitational-wave events detected by the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration (LVC), we find that the highest-spinning object is constrained to have nonzero spin for most sources and to have significant support at the Kerr limit for GW151226 and GW170729. A joint analysis of all the confident binary black hole detections by the LVC finds that, unlike with the traditional parametrization, the distribution of spin magnitude for the highest-spinning object has negligible support at zero spin. Regardless of the parametrization used, the configuration where all of the spins in the population are aligned with the orbital angular momentum is excluded from the 90% credible interval for the first ten events and from the 99% credible interval for all current confident detections.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Biscoveanu, Sylvia0000-0001-7616-7366
Isi, Maximiliano0000-0001-8830-8672
Vitale, Salvatore0000-0003-2700-0767
Varma, Vijay0000-0002-9994-1761
Alternate Title:A new spin on LIGO-Virgo binary black holes
Additional Information:© 2021 American Physical Society. (Received 2 November 2020; accepted 5 March 2021; published 29 April 2021) S. B., M. I., and S. V. acknowledge support of the National Science Foundation and the LIGO Laboratory. LIGO was constructed by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with funding from the National Science Foundation and operates under cooperative agreement PHY-0757058. S. B. is also supported by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-1122374. M. I. is supported by NASA through the NASA Hubble Fellowship Grant No. HST-HF2-51410.001-A awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under Contract No. NAS5-26555. V. V. is generously supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and NSF Grants No. PHY–170212 and No. PHY–1708213 at Caltech, and by a Klarman Fellowship at Cornell. The authors would like to thank Colm Talbot for help with GWPopulation, and Thomas Callister, Thomas Dent, Maya Fishbach, and Eric Thrane for careful comments on the manuscript. We also thank Will Farr, Katerina Chatziioannou, Javier Roulet, Leo Stein, Simona Miller, Carl-Johan Haster, Saavik Ford, Barry McKernan, Daniel Wysocki, Richard O’Shaughnessy, and others for useful discussions. This paper carries LIGO document No. LIGO-P2000247.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New AmericansUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1122374
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF2-51410.001-A
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Cornell UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
LIGO DocumentP2000247
Issue or Number:17
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210429-132053868
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108872
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:29 Apr 2021 21:25
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:33

Repository Staff Only: item control page