Unmodelled clustering methods for gravitational wave populations of compact binary mergers

Jade Powell, Simon Stevenson, Ilya Mandel, Peter Tiňo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The mass and spin distributions of compact binary gravitational-wave sources are currently uncertain due to complicated astrophysics involved in their formation. Multiple sub-populations of compact binaries representing different evolutionary scenarios may be present amongst sources detected by Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. In addition to hierarchical modelling, unmodelled methods can aid in determining the number of sub-populations and their properties. In this paper, we apply Gaussian mixture model clustering to 1000 simulated gravitational-wave compact binary sources from a mixture of five sub-populations. Using both mass and spin as input parameters, we determine how many binary detections are needed to accurately determine the number of sub-populations and their mass and spin distributions. In the most difficult case that we consider, where two sub-populations have identical mass distributions but differ in their spin, which is poorly constrained by gravitational-wave detections, we find that ∼400 detections are needed before we can identify the correct number of sub-populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3810-3817
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Gravitational waves

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