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Astrophysical Implications of the Binary Black Hole Merger GW150914The discovery of the gravitational-wave (GW) source GW150914 with the Advanced LIGO detectors provides the first observational evidence for the existence of binary black hole (BH) systems that in spiral and merge within the age of the universe. Such BH mergers have been predicted in two main types of formation models, involving isolated binaries in galactic fields or dynamical interactions in young and old dense stellar environments. The measured masses robustly demonstrate that relatively heavy BHs (> or approx. 25 Stellar Mass) can form in nature. This discovery implies relatively weak massive-star winds and thus the formation of GW150914 in an environment with a metallicity lower than about 12 of the solar value. The rate of binary-BH (BBH) mergers inferred from the observation of GW150914 is consistent with the higher end of rate predictions (> or approx. 1/cu Gpc/yr) from both types of formation models. The low measured redshift (z approx. = 0.1) of GW150914 and the low inferred metallicity of the stellar progenitor imply either BBH formation in a low-mass galaxy in the local universe and a prompt merger, or formation at high redshift with a time delay between formation and merger of several Gyr. This discovery motivates further studies of binary-BH formation astrophysics. It also has implications for future detections and studies by Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo, and GW detectors in space.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Abbott, B. P.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Abbott, R.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Abbott, T. D.
(Louisiana State Univ. Baton Rouge, LA, United States)
Abernathy, M. R.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Acernese, F.
(Universita degli Studi di Salerno Italy)
Ackley, K.
(Florida State Univ. Gainesville, FL, United States)
Adams, C.
(LIGO Livingston Observatory Livingston, LA, United States)
Adams, T.
(Grenoble-1 Univ. Annecy, France)
Addesso, P.
(Universita degli Studi di Salerno Italy)
Adhikari, R. X.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Adya, V. B.
(Max-Planck-Inst. fuer Gravitationsphysik Hanover, Germany)
Affeldt, C.
(Max-Planck-Inst. fuer Gravitationsphysik Hanover, Germany)
Agathos, M.
(Nationaal Inst. voor Kernfysica en Hoge Energiefysica Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Agatsuma, K.
(Nationaal Inst. voor Kernfysica en Hoge Energiefysica Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Aggarwal, N.
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Aguiar, O. D.
(Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil)
Aiello, L.
(Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) Frascati, Italy)
Ain, A.
(Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune, India)
Ajith, P.
(Tata Inst. of Fundamental Research Bangalore, India)
Allen, B.
(Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Germany)
Allocca, A.
(Pisa Univ. Italy)
Altin, P. A.
(Australian National Univ. Canberra, Australia)
Anderson, S. B.
(California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Anderson, W. G.
(Wisconsin Univ. Milwaukee, WI, United States)
Camp, J. B.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
March 30, 2017
Publication Date
February 11, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: The Astrophysical Journal
Volume: o 818
Issue: 2
ISSN: 2041-8205
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
black holes
gravitational waves

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