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Probing Extremal Gravitational-wave Events with Coarse-grained Likelihoods

Essick, Reed and Farah, Amanda and Galaudage, Shanika and Talbot, Colm and Fishbach, Maya and Thrane, Eric and Holz, Daniel E. (2022) Probing Extremal Gravitational-wave Events with Coarse-grained Likelihoods. Astrophysical Journal, 926 (1). Art. No. 34. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac3978.

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As catalogs of gravitational-wave transients grow, new records are set for the most extreme systems observed to date. The most massive observed black holes probe the physics of pair-instability supernovae while providing clues about the environments in which binary black hole systems are assembled. The least massive black holes, meanwhile, allow us to investigate the purported neutron star–black hole mass gap, and binaries with unusually asymmetric mass ratios or large spins inform our understanding of binary and stellar evolution. Existing outlier tests generally implement leave-one-out analyses, but these do not account for the fact that the event being left out was by definition an extreme member of the population. This results in a bias in the evaluation of outliers. We correct for this bias by introducing a coarse-graining framework to investigate whether these extremal events are true outliers or whether they are consistent with the rest of the observed population. Our method enables us to study extremal events while testing for population model misspecification. We show that this ameliorates biases present in the leave-one-out analyses commonly used within the gravitational-wave community. Applying our method to results from the second LIGO–Virgo transient catalog, we find qualitative agreement with the conclusions of Abbott et al. GW190814 is an outlier because of its small secondary mass. We find that neither GW190412 nor GW190521 is an outlier.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Essick, Reed0000-0001-8196-9267
Farah, Amanda0000-0002-6121-0285
Galaudage, Shanika0000-0002-1819-0215
Talbot, Colm0000-0003-2053-5582
Fishbach, Maya0000-0002-1980-5293
Thrane, Eric0000-0002-4418-3895
Holz, Daniel E.0000-0002-0175-5064
Additional Information:© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 September 1; revised 2021 November 5; accepted 2021 November 11; published 2022 February 9. The authors thank Will Farr, Tom Callister, and Katerina Chatziioannou for several helpful discussions. R.E. thanks the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) for support. Research at Perimeter Institute is supported in part by the Government of Canada through the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. S.G. and E.T. are supported through Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence CE170100004. A.F. is supported by the NSF Research Traineeship program under grant DGE-1735359. M.F. is supported by NASA through NASA Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF2-51455.001-A awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute. D.E.H. is supported by NSF grants PHY-2006645, PHY-2011997, and PHY-2110507, as well as by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics through an endowment from the Kavli Foundation and its founder Fred Kavli. D.E.H. also gratefully acknowledges the Marion and Stuart Rice Award. This material is based on work supported by NSF LIGO Laboratory, which is a major facility fully funded by the National Science Foundation. The authors are grateful for computational resources provided by the LIGO Laboratory and supported by National Science Foundation grants PHY-0757058 and PHY-0823459.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (Canada)UNSPECIFIED
Ontario Ministry of Colleges and UniversitiesUNSPECIFIED
Australian Research CouncilCE170100004
National Science Foundation Research Traineeship ProgramDGE-1735359
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF2-51455.001- A
Kavli FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Marion and Stuart Rice AwardUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Gravitational waves; Bayesian statistics; Hierarchical models; Catalogs; Gravitational wave astronomy
Issue or Number:1
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Gravitational waves (678); Bayesian statistics (1900); Hierarchical models (1925); Catalogs (205); Gravitational wave astronomy (675)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220209-266185000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Reed Essick et al 2022 ApJ 926 34
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113349
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Feb 2022 23:07
Last Modified:09 Feb 2022 23:07

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