New channel for the formation of binary black holes: Predictions for LIGO

7 Mar

De Mink & Mandel (2016), subm. to MNRAS, March 7, 2016

De Mink & Mandel, MNRAS 2016 in press 

We explore the predictions for detectable gravitational-wave signals from merging binary black holes formed through chemically homogeneous evolution in massive short-period stellar binaries. We find that ∼ 500 events per year could be detected with advanced ground-based detectors operating at full sensitivity. We analyze the distribution of detectable events, and conclude that there is a very strong preference for detecting events with nearly equal components (mass ratio > 0.66 at 90% confidence in our default model) and high masses (total source-frame mass between 57 and 103M⊙ at 90% confidence). We consider multiple alternative variations to analyze the sensitivity to uncertainties in the evolutionary physics and cosmological parameters, and conclude that while the rates are sensitive to assumed variations, the mass distributions are robust predictions. Finally, we consider the recently reported results of the analysis of the first 16 double-coincident days of the O1 LIGO observing run, and find that this formation channel is fully consistent with the inferred parameters of the GW150914 binary black hole detection and the inferred merger rate.