Searching for eccentricity: Signatures of dynamical formation in the first gravitational-wave transient catalogue of LIGO and Virgo

Isobel M. Romero-Shaw, Paul D. Lasky, Eric Thrane

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Binary black holes are thought to form primarily via two channels: isolated evolution and dynamical formation. The component masses, spins, and eccentricity of a binary black hole system provide clues to its formation history. We focus on eccentricity, which can be a signature of dynamical formation. Employing the spin-aligned eccentric waveform model SEOBNRE, we perform Bayesian inference to measure the eccentricity of binary black hole merger events in the first gravitational-wave transient catalogue of LIGO and Virgo. We find that all of these events are consistent with zero eccentricity. We set upper limits on eccentricity ranging from 0.02 to 0.05 with 90 per cent confidence at a reference frequency of 10 Hz. These upper limits do not significantly constrain the fraction of LIGO–Virgo events formed dynamically in globular clusters, because only ∼ 5 per cent are expected to merge with measurable eccentricity. However, with the gravitational-wave transient catalogue set to expand dramatically over the coming months, it may soon be possible to significantly constrain the fraction of mergers taking place in globular clusters using eccentricity measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5210-5216
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Binaries: general
  • Gravitational waves
  • Stars: black holes

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