Constraints on Compact Binary Formation and Effective Gravitational Wave Likelihood Approximation
Since the initial discovery of gravitational-waves from merging black holes, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration together with Virgo and KAGRA have published 90 gravitational-wave observations of compact binary mergers in the Gravitational-Wave Transient Catalog papers. One of the quintessential questions of this decade in gravitational-wave astronomy is the characterization and impact of the population of observed gravitational-wave signals from merging black holes and neutron stars. Now, there is greater incentive than ever to study the formation channels for these compact binary mergers. In this work, we carry out an investigation of isolated binary evolution formation channel, comparing predictions of the gravitational-wave population from the StarTrack synthetic universe simulations to the observed population of compact binary mergers in order to constrain certain astrophysical processes in binary evolution. In due course, we construct, apply, and provide parametric and non-parametric models for the likelihood function of the full set of astrophysical parameters of each event in the Gravitational-Wave Transient Catalogs, including truncated multivariate normal distributions normalized on a bounded interval, which we have shared in our associated publications [63, 64]. We present the findings of our investigation of the formation parameters for the isolated binary evolution formation channel for compact objects. We have uncovered confounding systematic effects in our model by considering the agreement and disagreement of predictions based on the event rate and mass distribution. Furthermore, our preliminary results demonstrate the benefits of a multi-dimensional analysis which is sensitive to the interdependence of the predicted detection population on many formation parameters. Our essential contribution is therefore a method for carrying out such an analysis efficiently, while considering its self-consistency. We discuss potential sources of bias as we also present the properties of our best binary evolution models, which are consistent with unrestricted stellar mass loss due to winds, high mass and angular momentum loss to ejected portions of a common envelope, and substantial black hole supernova recoil kicks. We conclude with a discussion of the impact of these activities for gravitational-wave and multi-messenger astronomy.
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)
Del Favero, Vera, "Constraints on Compact Binary Formation and Effective Gravitational Wave Likelihood Approximation" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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