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Published August 11, 2020 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Inferring the population properties of binary black holes from unresolved gravitational waves


The vast majority of compact binary mergers in the Universe produce gravitational waves that are too weak to yield unambiguous detections; they are unresolved. We present a method to infer the population properties of compact binaries – such as their merger rates, mass spectrum, and spin distribution – using both resolved and unresolved gravitational waves. By eliminating entirely the distinction between resolved and unresolved signals, we eliminate bias from selection effects. To demonstrate this method, we carry out a Monte Carlo study using an astrophysically motivated population of binary black holes. We show that some population properties of compact binaries are well constrained by unresolved signals after about one week of observation with Advanced LIGO at design sensitivity.

Additional Information

© 2020 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model) Accepted 2020 June 2. Received 2020 May 25; in original form 2020 April 21. RS, CT, FHV, and ET are supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) CE170100004. ET is supported by ARC FT150100281. We thank Stuart Anderson and the LIGO Data Grid for assistance with computing infrastructure, and Maya Fishbach, Thomas Callister, and Thomas Dent for helpful comments and suggestions. We acknowledge the OzStar cluster for providing graphical processor units to carry out some of our calculations.

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Published - staa1642.pdf

Submitted - 2004.09700.pdf


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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023