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One channel to rule them all? Constraining the origins of binary black holes using multiple formation pathways

Zevin, Michael, Bavera, Simone S., Berry, Christopher P. L., Kalogera, Vicky, Fragos, Tassos, Marchant, Pablo, Rodriguez, Carl L., Antonini, Fabio, Holz, Daniel E. and Pankow, Chris 2021. One channel to rule them all? Constraining the origins of binary black holes using multiple formation pathways. Astrophysical Journal 910 (2) , 152. 10.3847/1538-4357/abe40e
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Abstract

The second LIGO–Virgo catalog of gravitational-wave (GW) transients has more than quadrupled the observational sample of binary black holes. We analyze this catalog using a suite of five state-of-the-art binary black hole population models covering a range of isolated and dynamical formation channels and infer branching fractions between channels as well as constraints on uncertain physical processes that impact the observational properties of mergers. Given our set of formation models, we find significant differences between the branching fractions of the underlying and detectable populations, and the diversity of detections suggests that multiple formation channels are at play. A mixture of channels is strongly preferred over any single channel dominating the detected population: an individual channel does not contribute to more than sime70% of the observational sample of binary black holes. We calculate the preference between the natal spin assumptions and common-envelope efficiencies in our models, favoring natal spins of isolated black holes of lesssim0.1 and marginally preferring common-envelope efficiencies of gsim2.0 while strongly disfavoring highly inefficient common envelopes. We show that it is essential to consider multiple channels when interpreting GW catalogs, as inference on branching fractions and physical prescriptions becomes biased when contributing formation scenarios are not considered or incorrect physical prescriptions are assumed. Although our quantitative results can be affected by uncertain assumptions in model predictions, our methodology is capable of including models with updated theoretical considerations and additional formation channels.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
ISSN: 0004-637X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 6 February 2021
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:45
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/139177

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