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On the single-event-based identification of primordial black hole mergers at cosmological distances

Ng, Ken K. Y., Chen, Shiqi, Goncharov, Boris, Dupletsa, Ulyana, Borhanian, Ssohrab, Branchesi, Marica, Harms, Jan, Maggiore, Michele, Sathyaprakash, B. S. ORCID: and Vitale, Salvatore 2022. On the single-event-based identification of primordial black hole mergers at cosmological distances. Astrophysical Journal Letters 931 (1) , L12. 10.3847/2041-8213/ac6bea

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The existence of primordial black holes (PBHs), which may form from the collapse of matter overdensities shortly after the Big Bang, is still under debate. Among the potential signatures of PBHs are gravitational waves (GWs) emitted from binary black hole (BBH) mergers at redshifts z ≳ 30, where the formation of astrophysical black holes is unlikely. Future ground-based GW detectors, the Cosmic Explorer and Einstein Telescope, will be able to observe equal-mass BBH mergers with total mass of (10–100)M⊙ at such distances. In this work, we investigate whether the redshift measurement of a single BBH source can be precise enough to establish its primordial origin. We simulate BBHs of different masses, mass ratios and orbital orientations. We show that for BBHs with total masses between 20 M ⊙ and 40 M ⊙ merging at z ≥ 40, one can infer z > 30 at up to 97% credibility, with a network of one Einstein Telescope, one 40 km Cosmic Explorer in the US, and one 20 km Cosmic Explorer in Australia. This number reduces to 94% with a smaller network made of one Einstein Telescope and one 40 km Cosmic Explorer in the US. We also analyze how the measurement depends on the Bayesian priors used in the analysis and verify that priors that strongly favor the wrong model yield smaller Bayesian evidences.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: cc-by
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
ISSN: 2041-8205
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 29 April 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 11:19

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