Determining the progenitors of merging black-hole binaries

Alvise Raccanelli, Ely D. Kovetz, Simeon Bird, Ilias Cholis, Julian B. Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


We investigate a possible method for determining the progenitors of black-hole (BH) mergers observed via their gravitational wave (GW) signal. We argue that measurements of the cross-correlation of the GW events with overlapping galaxy catalogs may provide an additional tool in determining if BH mergers trace the stellar mass of the Universe, as would be expected from mergers of the end points of stellar evolution. If, on the other hand, the BHs are of primordial origin, as has been recently suggested, their merging would be preferentially hosted by lower biased objects and thus have a lower cross-correlation with luminous galaxies. Here, we forecast the expected precision of the cross-correlation measurement for current and future GW detectors such as LIGO and the Einstein Telescope. We then predict how well these instruments can distinguish the model that identifies high-mass BH-BH mergers as the merger of primordial black holes that constitute the dark matter in the Universe from more traditional astrophysical sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023516
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number2
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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