Bounding dark charges on binary black holes using gravitational waves

Pawan Kumar Gupta, Thomas F.M. Spieksma, Peter T.H. Pang, Gideon Koekoek, Chris Van Den Broeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In models of minicharged dark matter associated with a hidden U(1)symmetry, astrophysical black holes may acquire a “dark” charge, in such a way that the inspiral dynamics of binary black holes can be formally described by an Einstein-Maxwell theory. Charges enter the gravitational wave signal predominantly through a dipole term, but their effect is known to effectively first post-Newtonian order in the phase, which enables measuring the size of the charge-to-mass ratios |qi/mi|,i = 1, 2, of the individual black holes in a binary. We set up a Bayesian analysis to discover, or constrain, dark charges on binary black holes. After testing our framework in simulations, we apply it to selected binary black hole signals from the second gravitational wave transient catalog, namely, those with low masses so that most of the signal-to-noise ratio is in the inspiral regime. We find no evidence for charges on the black holes and place typical 1σ bounds on the charge-to-mass ratios of |qi/mi| ≲ 0.2-0.3.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063041
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


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