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Journal Article

The Missing Link: Bayesian Detection and Measurement of Intermediate-Mass Black-Hole Binaries


Buonanno,  Alessandra
Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Graff, P. B., Buonanno, A., & Sathyaprakash, B. S. (2015). The Missing Link: Bayesian Detection and Measurement of Intermediate-Mass Black-Hole Binaries. Physical Review D, 92(2): 022002. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.92.022002.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-5A10-6
We perform Bayesian analysis of gravitational-wave signals from non-spinning, intermediate-mass black-hole binaries (IMBHBs) with observed total mass, $M_{\mathrm{obs}}$, from $50\mathrm{M}_{\odot}$ to $500\mathrm{M}_{\odot}$ and mass ratio $1\mbox{--}4$ using advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors. We employ inspiral-merger-ringdown waveform models based on the effective-one-body formalism and include subleading modes of radiation beyond the leading $(2,2)$ mode. The presence of subleading modes increases signal power for inclined binaries and allows for improved accuracy and precision in measurements of the masses as well as breaking of extrinsic parameter degeneracies. For low total masses, $M_{\mathrm{obs}} \lesssim 50 \mathrm{M}_{\odot}$, the observed chirp mass $\mathcal{M}_{\rm obs} = M_{\mathrm{obs}}\,\eta^{3/5}$ ($\eta$ being the symmetric mass ratio) is better measured. In contrast, as increasing power comes from merger and ringdown, we find that the total mass $M_{\mathrm{obs}}$ has better relative precision than $\mathcal{M}_{\rm obs}$. Indeed, at high $M_{\mathrm{obs}}$ ($\geq 300 \mathrm{M}_{\odot}$), the signal resembles a burst and the measurement thus extracts the dominant frequency of the signal that depends on $M_{\mathrm{obs}}$. Depending on the binary's inclination, at signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of $12$, uncertainties in $M_{\mathrm{obs}}$ can be as large as $\sim 20 \mbox{--}25\%$ while uncertainties in $\mathcal{M}_{\rm obs}$ are $\sim 50 \mbox{--}60\%$ in binaries with unequal masses (those numbers become $\sim 17\%$ versus $\sim22\%$ in more symmetric binaries). Although large, those uncertainties will establish the existence of IMBHs. Our results show that gravitational-wave observations can offer a unique tool to observe and understand the formation, evolution and demographics of IMBHs, which are difficult to observe in the electromagnetic window. (abridged)