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General-relativistic precession in a black-hole binary

Hannam, Mark ORCID:, Hoy, Charlie, Thompson, Jonathan E., Fairhurst, Stephen ORCID:, Raymond, Vivien ORCID:, Colleoni, Marta, Davis, Derek, Estellés, Héctor, Haster, Carl-Johan, Helmling-Cornell, Adrian, Husa, Sascha, Keitel, David, Massinger, T. J., Menéndez-Vázquez, Alexis, Mogushi, Kentaro, Ossokine, Serguei, Payne, Ethan, Pratten, Geraint, Romero-Shaw, Isobel, Sadiq, Jam, Schmidt, Patricia, Tenorio, Rodrigo, Udall, Richard, Veitch, John, Williams, Daniel, Yelikar, Anjali Balasaheb and Zimmerman, Aaron 2022. General-relativistic precession in a black-hole binary. Nature 610 (7933) , pp. 652-655. 10.1038/s41586-022-05212-z

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The general-relativistic phenomenon of spin-induced orbital precession has not yet been observed in strong-field gravity. Gravitational-wave observations of binary black holes (BBHs) are prime candidates, as we expect the astrophysical binary population to contain precessing binaries1,2. Imprints of precession have been investigated in several signals3,4,5, but no definitive identification of orbital precession has been reported in any of the 84 BBH observations so far5,6,7 by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors8,9. Here we report the measurement of strong-field precession in the LIGO–Virgo–Kagra gravitational-wave signal GW200129. The binary’s orbit precesses at a rate ten orders of magnitude faster than previous weak-field measurements from binary pulsars10,11,12,13. We also find that the primary black hole is probably highly spinning. According to current binary population estimates, a GW200129-like signal is extremely unlikely, and therefore presents a direct challenge to many current binary-formation models.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 0028-0836
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 February 2023
Date of Acceptance: 9 August 2022
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 03:17

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