We’ve been knowing about the mass gap for a while, but I bet “spin gap” sounds new to you, uh? The gap in the spectrum of binary black hole masses is due to pair-instability supernovae (i.e. what happens if a giant ball of carbon and oxygen burns all at the same time). As for the spin gap, it might be that stars collapse into black holes which have a tiny tiny spin. But that’s only for black holes that come from stars: those come out of the merger of other black holes, on the other hand, are very rapidly rotating. So, there’s a gap between these two populations. Our paper today shows that, together, mass gap and spin gap are powerful tools to figure out where black holes come from. Cluster or field? Gaps will tell.
Vishal Baibhav, Davide Gerosa, Emanuele Berti, Kaze W. K. Wong, Thomas Helfer, Matthew Mould.