Properties and astrophysical implications of the 150 M ⊙ binary black hole merger GW190521

Abbott, R. et al. (2020) Properties and astrophysical implications of the 150 M ⊙ binary black hole merger GW190521. Astrophysical Journal, 900(1), L13. (doi: 10.3847/2041-8213/aba493)

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Abstract

The gravitational-wave signal GW190521 is consistent with a binary black hole (BBH) merger source at redshift 0.8 with unusually high component masses, ${85}_{-14}^{+21}$ M ⊙ and ${66}_{-18}^{+17}$ M ⊙, compared to previously reported events, and shows mild evidence for spin-induced orbital precession. The primary falls in the mass gap predicted by (pulsational) pair-instability supernova theory, in the approximate range 65–120 M ⊙. The probability that at least one of the black holes in GW190521 is in that range is 99.0%. The final mass of the merger (${142}_{-16}^{+28}$ M ⊙) classifies it as an intermediate-mass black hole. Under the assumption of a quasi-circular BBH coalescence, we detail the physical properties of GW190521's source binary and its post-merger remnant, including component masses and spin vectors. Three different waveform models, as well as direct comparison to numerical solutions of general relativity, yield consistent estimates of these properties. Tests of strong-field general relativity targeting the merger-ringdown stages of the coalescence indicate consistency of the observed signal with theoretical predictions. We estimate the merger rate of similar systems to be ${0.13}_{-0.11}^{+0.30}\,{{\rm{Gpc}}}^{-3}\,{{\rm{yr}}}^{-1}$. We discuss the astrophysical implications of GW190521 for stellar collapse and for the possible formation of black holes in the pair-instability mass gap through various channels: via (multiple) stellar coalescences, or via hierarchical mergers of lower-mass black holes in star clusters or in active galactic nuclei. We find it to be unlikely that GW190521 is a strongly lensed signal of a lower-mass black hole binary merger. We also discuss more exotic possible sources for GW190521, including a highly eccentric black hole binary, or a primordial black hole binary.

Item Type:Articles (Letter)
Keywords:Astrophysical black holes, high energy astrophysics, gravitational collapse, gravitation, gravitational wave astronomy, gravitational wave sources, LIGO, stellar mass black holes, stellar populations, intermediate-mass black holes.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Grant, Mr Alastair and Spencer, Mr Andrew and Pearlstone, Brynley and Messenger, Dr Christopher and Masso Reid, Ms Mariela and Bell, Dr Angus and Williams, Mr Daniel and Pascucci, Daniela and Utina, Mr Andrei and Toland, Mr Karl and Hayes, Mr Fergus and Hammond, Professor Giles and Hild, Professor Stefan and Barr, Dr Bryan and Sorazu Lucio, Dr Borja and Cummings, Ms Rebecca and Steinlechner, Dr Jessica and Veitch, Dr John and Linley, Mr Jethro and Kinley-Hanlon, Maya Marie Antoinette and Heng, Professor Ik Siong and Dupej, Peter and van Veggel, Dr Marielle and Tait, Mr Simon and Briggs, Mr Joseph and Singha, Ms Ayatri and Zhang, Mr Teng and Hendry, Professor Martin and Scott, Dr Jamie and Mangano, Valentina and Rowan, Professor Sheila and Martin, Dr Iain and Robertson, Professor Norna and Chan, Mr Man Leong and Tornasi, Zeno and Mukherjee, Dr Arunava and Gabbard, Mr Hunter and Cumming, Dr Alan and Berry, Dr Christopher and Cunningham, Dr Liam and Gray, Ms Rachel and Woan, Professor Graham and WRIGHT, Jennifer and Steinlechner, Dr Sebastian and Datrier, Ms Laurence and Hough, Professor James and Huttner, Dr Sabina and Callaghan, Mr Jack and Bayley, Mr Joseph and Strain, Professor Kenneth and Jones, Mr Russell and Eddolls, Graeme and Haughian, Dr Karen and De Lillo, Nicola and Murray, Dr Peter
Authors: Abbott, R., Abbott, T. D., Abraham, S., Acernese, F., Ackley, K., Adams, C., Adhikari, R. X., Adya, V. B., Affeldt, C., Agathos, M., Agatsuma, K., Aggarwal, N., Aguiar, O. D., Aich, A., Aiello, L., Ain, A., Ajith, P., Akcay, S., Allen, G., Allocca, A., Altin, P. A., Amato, A., Anand, S., Ananyeva, A., Anderson, S. B., Anderson, W. G., Angelova, S. V., Ansoldi, S., Antier, S., Appert, S., Arai, K., Araya, M. C., Areeda, J. S., Arène, M., Arnaud, N., Aronson, S. M., Arun, K. G., Asali, Y., Ascenzi, S., Ashton, G., Aston, S. M., Astone, P., Aubin, F., Aufmuth, P., AultONeal, K., Austin, C., Avendano, V., Babak, S., Bacon, P., Badaracco, F., Bader, M. K. M., Bae, S., Baer, A. M., Baird, J., Baldaccini, F., Ballardin, G., Ballmer, S. W., Bals, A., Balsamo, A., Baltus, G., Banagiri, S., Bankar, D., Bankar, R. S., Barayoga, J. C., Barbieri, C., Barish, B. C., Barker, D., Barkett, K., Barneo, P., Barone, F., Barr, B., Barsotti, L., Barsuglia, M., Barta, D., Bartlett, J., Bartos, I., Bassiri, R., Basti, A., Bawaj, M., Bayley, J. C., Bazzan, M., Bécsy, B., Bejger, M., Belahcene, I., Bell, A. S., Beniwal, D., Benjamin, M. G., Bentley, J. D., Bergamin, F., Berger, B. K., Bergmann, G., Bernuzzi, S., Berry, C. P. L., Bersanetti, D., Bertolini, A., Betzwieser, J., Bhandare, R., Bhandari, A. V., Bidler, J., Biggs, E., Bilenko, I. A., Billingsley, G., Birney, R., Birnholtz, O., Biscans, S., Bischi, M., Biscoveanu, S., Bisht, A., Bissenbayeva, G., Bitossi, M., Bizouard, M. A., Blackburn, J. K., Blackman, J., Blair, C. D., Blair, D. G., Blair, R. M., Bobba, F., Bode, N., Boer, M., Boetzel, Y., Bogaert, G., Bondu, F., Bonilla, E., Bonnand, R., Booker, P., Boom, B. A., Bork, R., Boschi, V., Bose, S., Bossilkov, V., Bosveld, J., Bouffanais, Y., Bozzi, A., Bradaschia, C., Brady, P. R., Bramley, A., Branchesi, M., Brau, J. E., Breschi, M., Briant, T., Briggs, J. H., Brighenti, F., Brillet, A., Brinkmann, M., Brockill, P., Brooks, A. F., Brooks, J., Brown, D. D., Brunett, S., Bruno, G., Bruntz, R., Buikema, A., Bulik, T., Bulten, H. J., Buonanno, A., Buscicchio, R., Buskulic, D., Byer, R. L., Cabero, M., Cadonati, L., Cagnoli, G., Cahillane, C., Calderón Bustillo, J., Callaghan, J. D., Callister, T. A., Calloni, E., Camp, J. B., Canepa, M., Cannon, K. C., Cao, H., Cao, J., Carapella, G., Carbognani, F., Caride, S., Carney, M. F., Carullo, G., Casanueva Diaz, J., Casentini, C., Castañeda, J., Caudill, S., Cavaglià, M., Cavalier, F., Cavalieri, R., Cella, G., Cerdá-Durán, P., Cesarini, E., Chaibi, O., Chakravarti, K., Chan, C., Chan, M., Chao, S., Charlton, P., Chase, E. A., Chassande-Mottin, E., Chatterjee, D., Chaturvedi, M., Chatziioannou, K., Chen, H. Y., Chen, X., Chen, Y., Cheng, H.-P., Cheong, C. K., Chia, H. Y., Chiadini, F., Chierici, R., Chincarini, A., Chiummo, A., Cho, G., Cho, H. 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Subjects:Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Research Group:Institute for Gravitational Research
Journal Name:Astrophysical Journal
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:0004-637X
ISSN (Online):1538-4357
Published Online:02 September 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The American Astronomical Society
First Published:First published in Astrophysical Journal Letters 900(1): L13
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
309290Advanced LIGO Operations SupportKenneth StrainScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/V001019/1P&S - Physics & Astronomy
173808Investigations in gravitational radiationSheila RowanScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/N005422/1P&S - Physics & Astronomy
172131Proposal for UK Involvement in the Operation of Advanced LIGOKenneth StrainScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/N00003X/1P&S - Physics & Astronomy