Formation of the first three gravitational-wave observations through isolated binary evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Simon Stevenson
  • Alejandro Vigna-gómez
  • Jim W. Barrett
  • Coenraad J. Neijssel
  • David Perkins
  • Selma E. De Mink

Colleges, School and Institutes


During its first four months of taking data, Advanced LIGO has detected gravitational waves from two binary black hole mergers, GW150914 and GW151226, along with the statistically less significant binary black hole merger candidate LVT151012. Here we use the rapid binary population synthesis code COMPAS to show that all three events can be explained by a single evolutionary channel—classical isolated binary evolution via mass transfer including a common envelope phase. We show all three events could have formed in low-metallicity environments (Z=0.001) from progenitor binaries with typical total masses ≳160M⨀, ≳60M⨀ and ≳90M⨀, for GW150914, GW151226 and LVT151012, respectively.


Original languageEnglish
Article number14906
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017


  • Computational astrophysics, High-energy astrophysics