Searching for ultralight bosons within spin measurements of a population of binary black hole mergers

Ken K.Y. Ng, Otto A. Hannuksela, Salvatore Vitale, Tjonnie G.F. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Ultralight bosons can form clouds around rotating black holes if their Compton wavelength is comparable to the black hole size. The boson cloud spins down the black hole through a process called superradiance, lowering the black hole spin to a characteristic spin determined by the boson mass and the black hole mass. It has been suggested that spin measurements of the black holes detected by ground-based gravitational-wave detectors can be used to constrain the mass of ultralight bosons. Unfortunately, a measurement of the individual black hole spins is often uncertain, resulting in inconclusive results. Instead, we use hierarchical Bayesian inference to combine information from multiple gravitational-wave sources and to obtain stronger constraints. We show that hundreds of high signal-to-noise ratio gravitational-wave detections are enough to exclude (confirm) the existence of noninteracting bosons in the mass range [10-13,3×10-12] eV ([10-13,10-12] eV). The precise number depends on the distribution of black hole spins at formation and the mass of the boson.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063010
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalPhysical Review D
Volume103
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021

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