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#### Observational tests of the black hole area increase law

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##### Citation

Cabero, M., Capano, C., Birnholtz, O., Krishnan, B., Nielsen, A. B., & Nitz, A. H. (2018).
Observational tests of the black hole area increase law.* Physical Review D,* *97*:
124069. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.97.124069.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-8040-6

##### Abstract

The black hole area theorem implies that when two black holes merge, the area
of the final black hole should be greater than the sum of the areas of the two
original black holes. We examine how this prediction can be tested with
gravitational-wave observations of binary black holes. By separately fitting
the early inspiral and final ringdown phases, we calculate the posterior
distributions for the masses and spins of the two initial and the final black
holes. This yields posterior distributions for the change in the area and thus
a statistical test of the validity of the area increase law. We illustrate this
method with a GW150914-like binary black hole waveform calculated using
numerical relativity and detector sensitivities representative of both the
first observational run and the design configuration of Advanced LIGO. We find
that the area theorem could be confirmed to $\sim66\%$ confidence with current
sensitivity, improving to $\sim97\%$ when Advanced LIGO reaches design
sensitivity. An important ingredient in our test is a method of estimating when
the post-merger signal is well-fit by a damped sinusoid ringdown waveform.