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Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • The LIGO Scientific Collaboration
  • the Virgo Collaboration
  • Jonathan Gair

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Original languageEnglish
Article number061102
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume116
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2016

Abstract

On September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal. The signal sweeps upwards in frequency from 35 to 250 Hz with a peak gravitational-wave strain of $1.0 \times 10^{-21}$. It matches the waveform predicted by general relativity for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. The signal was observed with a matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 24 and a false alarm rate estimated to be less than 1 event per 203 000 years, equivalent to a significance greater than 5.1 {\sigma}. The source lies at a luminosity distance of $410^{+160}_{-180}$ Mpc corresponding to a redshift $z = 0.09^{+0.03}_{-0.04}$. In the source frame, the initial black hole masses are $36^{+5}_{-4} M_\odot$ and $29^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$, and the final black hole mass is $62^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$, with $3.0^{+0.5}_{-0.5} M_\odot c^2$ radiated in gravitational waves. All uncertainties define 90% credible intervals.These observations demonstrate the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systems. This is the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger.

    Research areas

  • gr-qc, astro-ph.HE

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