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Dynamical Formation of LIGO’s Binary Black Hole Mergers

Presentation #200.01 in the session “Dynamics Leading to Gravitational Waves”.

Published onJun 01, 2021
Dynamical Formation of LIGO’s Binary Black Hole Mergers

In the 5 years since the first detection of gravitational waves, LIGO and Virgo have moved from announcing single detections to releasing entire catalogs, with more than 50 binary black hole mergers detected to date. In this talk, I describe how binary black holes can be formed through dynamical encounters in the cores of dense star clusters (such as globular clusters). I will connect the merger rate of these binaries to the present-day appearance of globular clusters, and argue the evolution of the black holes within these old collisional systems directly determines whether or not the cluster have undergone core collapse. Finally, I will show that while clusters can explain the observed merger rate of binaries from LIGO and Virgo, the distribution of black hole spins suggests that multiple formation scenarios likely play a role in shaping the gravitational-wave landscape.

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