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Understanding how fast black holes spin by analyzing data from the second gravitational-wave catalogue

Hoy, Charlie, Fairhurst, Stephen ORCID:, Hannam, Mark ORCID: and Tiwari, Vaibhav 2022. Understanding how fast black holes spin by analyzing data from the second gravitational-wave catalogue. Astrophysical Journal 928 (1) , 75. 10.3847/1538-4357/ac54a3

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The Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors have now observed approximately 50 black hole binary mergers, from which we can begin to infer how rapidly astrophysical black holes spin. The LIGO-Virgo Collaboration (LVC) analysis of detections up to the end of the first half of the third observing run (O3a) appeared to uncover a distribution of spin magnitudes that peaks at ∼0.2. This is surprising: is there a black hole formation mechanism that prefers a particular, nonzero spin magnitude, or could this be the cumulative effect of multiple formation processes? We perform an independent analysis of the most recent gravitational-wave (GW) catalog, and find that (a) the support for the LVC spin magnitude is tenuous; in particular, adding or removing just one signal from the catalog can remove the statistical preference for this distribution; and (b) we find potential evidence for two spin subpopulations in the observed black holes: one with extremely low spins and one with larger spin magnitudes. We make the connection that these spin subpopulations could be correlated with the mass of the binary, with more massive binaries preferring larger spin magnitudes, and argue that this may provide evidence for hierarchical mergers in the second GW catalog.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Additional Information: 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.
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
ISSN: 0004-637X
Funders: STFC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 10 February 2022
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 21:49

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