End-to-end study of the home and genealogy of the first binary neutron star merger

12 Jan 2023  ·  Heloise F. Stevance, Jan J. Eldridge, Elizabeth R. Stanway, Joe Lyman, Anna F. McLeod, Andrew J. Levan ·

Binary neutron star mergers are one of the ultimate events of massive binary star evolution, and our understanding of their parent system is still in its infancy. Upcoming gravitational wave detections, coupled with multi-wavelength follow-up observations, will allow us to study an increasing number of these events by characterising their neighbouring stellar populations and searching for their progenitors. Stellar evolution simulations are essential to this work but they are also based on numerous assumptions. Additionally, the models used to study the host galaxies differ from those used to characterise the progenitors and are typically based on single star populations. Here we introduce a framework to perform an end-to-end analysis and deploy it to the first binary neutron star merger - GW170817. With the Binary Population And Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) codes we are able to retrieve the physical properties of the host galaxy NGC 4993 as well as infer progenitor candidates. In our simulations there is a >98% chance that GW170817 originated from a stellar population with Z=0.010 born between 5 and 12.5 Gyrs ago. By carefully weighing the stellar genealogies we find that GW170817 most likely came from a binary system born with a 13-24 Msol primary and 10-12 Msol secondary which underwent two or three common envelope events over their lifetime.

PDF Abstract


High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena Solar and Stellar Astrophysics