Astrophysical implications of GW190412 as a remnant of a previous black-hole merger

Davide Gerosa, Salvatore Vitale, Emanuele Berti

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Two of the dominant channels to produce merging stellar-mass black-hole binaries are believed to be the isolated evolution of binary stars in the field and dynamical formation in star clusters. The first reported black-hole binary event from the third LIGO/Virgo observing run (GW190412) is unusual in that it has unequal masses, nonzero effective spin, and nonzero primary spin at 90% confidence interval. We show that this event should be exceedingly rare in the context of both the field and cluster formation scenarios. Interpreting GW190412 as a remnant of a previous black-hole merger provides a promising route to explain its features. If GW190412 indeed formed hierarchically, we show that the region of the parameter space that is best motivated from an astrophysical standpoint (low natal spins and light clusters) cannot accommodate the observation. We analyze public GW190412 LIGO/Virgo data with a Bayesian prior where the more massive black hole resulted from a previous merger and find that this interpretation is equally supported by the data. If the heavier component of GW190412 is indeed a merger remnant, then its spin magnitude is χ1=0.56+0.19−0.21, which is higher than the value previously reported by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101103
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


  • astro-ph.HE
  • gr-qc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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