Measuring Intermediate-Mass Black-Hole Binaries with Advanced Gravitational Wave Detectors

John Veitch, Michael Pürrer, Ilya Mandel

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We perform a systematic study to explore the accuracy with which the parameters of intermediate-mass black-hole binary systems can be measured from their gravitational wave (GW) signatures using second-generation GW detectors. We make use of the most recent reduced-order models containing inspiral, merger, and ringdown signals of aligned-spin effective-one-body waveforms to significantly speed up the calculations. We explore the phenomenology of the measurement accuracies for binaries with total masses between 50M⊙ and 500M⊙ and mass ratios between 0.1 and 1. We find that (i) at total masses below ∼200M⊙, where the signal-to-noise ratio is dominated by the inspiral portion of the signal, the chirp mass parameter can be accurately measured; (ii) at higher masses, the information content is dominated by the ringdown, and total mass is measured more accurately; (iii) the mass of the lower-mass companion is poorly estimated, especially at high total mass and more extreme mass ratios; and (iv) spin cannot be accurately measured for our injection set with nonspinning components. Most importantly, we find that for binaries with nonspinning components at all values of the mass ratio in the considered range and at a network signal-to-noise ratio of 15, analyzed with spin-aligned templates, the presence of an intermediate-mass black hole with mass >100M⊙ can be confirmed with 95% confidence in any binary that includes a component with a mass of 130M⊙ or greater.
Original languageEnglish
Article number141101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number14
Early online date29 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


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