A Caltech Library Service

Are merging black holes born from stellar collapse or previous mergers?

Gerosa, Davide and Berti, Emanuele (2017) Are merging black holes born from stellar collapse or previous mergers? Physical Review D, 95 (12). Art. No. 124046. ISSN 2470-0010. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.95.124046.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


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

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Gerosa, Davide0000-0002-0933-3579
Berti, Emanuele0000-0003-0751-5130
Additional Information:© 2017 American Physical Society. Received 17 March 2017. We thank Archisman Ghosh, Walter Del Pozzo and Parameswaran Ajith for sharing parameter estimation data from Ref. [77]. We also thank Daniel Holz, Maya Fishbach, Ben Farr, Leo Stein, and Chris Moore for discussions. D. G. is supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant No. PF6-170152 awarded by the Chandra X-ray Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for NASA under Contract No. NAS8-03060. E. B. was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. PHY-1607130 and by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Contract No. IF/00797/2014/CP1214/CT0012 under the IF2014 Program. This work was supported by the H2020-MSCA-RISE-2015 Grant No. StronGrHEP-690904. Computations were performed on the Caltech computer cluster “Wheeler,” supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and Caltech. Partial support is acknowledged by NSF CAREER Award PHY-1151197. This research made use of python packages astropy [102] and matplotlib [103].
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Einstein FellowshipPF6-170152
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)IF/00797/2014/CP1214/CT0012
European Research Council (ERC)StronGrHEP-690904
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170628-092559421
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Are merging black holes born from stellar collapse or previous mergers? Davide Gerosa and Emanuele Berti Phys. Rev. D 95, 124046 (2017) – Published 26 June 2017
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:78638
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:28 Jun 2017 16:40
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:41

Repository Staff Only: item control page