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On the gravitational lensing interpretation of three gravitational wave detections in the mass gap by LIGO and Virgo

Bianconi, Matteo; Smith, Graham P; Nicholl, Matt; Ryczanowski, Dan; Richard, Johan; Jauzac, Mathilde; Massey, Richard; Robertson, Andrew; Sharon, Keren; Ridley, Evan

On the gravitational lensing interpretation of three gravitational wave detections in the mass gap by LIGO and Virgo Thumbnail


Authors

Matteo Bianconi

Graham P Smith

Matt Nicholl

Dan Ryczanowski

Johan Richard

Andrew Robertson

Keren Sharon

Evan Ridley



Abstract

We search for gravitational wave (GW) events from LIGO-Virgo’s third run that may have been affected by gravitational lensing. Gravitational lensing delays the arrival of GWs, and alters their amplitude – thus biasing the inferred progenitor masses. This would provide a physically well-understood interpretation of GW detections in the ‘mass gap’ between neutron stars and black holes, as gravitationally lensed binary neutron star (BNS) mergers. We selected three GW detections in LIGO-Virgo’s third run for which the probability of at least one of the constituent compact objects being in the mass gap was reported as high with low latency – i.e. candidate lensed BNS mergers. Our observations of powerful strong lensing clusters located adjacent to the peak of their sky localization error maps reached a sensitivity AB≃25.5 in the z′ band with the GMOS instruments on the Gemini telescopes, and detected no candidate lensed optical counterparts. We combine recent kilonova light-curve models with recent predictions of the lensed BNS population and the properties of the objects that we followed up to show that realistic optical counterparts were detectable in our observations. Further detailed analysis of two of the candidates suggests that they are a plausible pair of images of the same low-mass binary black hole merger, lensed by a local galaxy or small group of galaxies. This further underlines that access to accurate mass information with low latency would improve the efficiency of candidate lensed BNS selection.

Citation

Bianconi, M., Smith, G. P., Nicholl, M., Ryczanowski, D., Richard, J., Jauzac, M., …Ridley, E. (2023). On the gravitational lensing interpretation of three gravitational wave detections in the mass gap by LIGO and Virgo. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 521(3), 3421-3430. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stad673

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 27, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 3, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date May 24, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 24, 2023
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 521
Issue 3
Pages 3421-3430
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stad673
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1173172

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Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2023 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.






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