Big stars burn everything they have, die fast, and produce big black holes. So when you see two black holes together, it’s likely that the big black hole comes from the big star. Or maybe not? Before dying, the big star can drop some mass onto the other guy, making it bigger! So now, the initially big star still produces the first black hole, but, at the end of the day, that might not be the more massive black hole anymore! This scenario is called “mass-ratio reversal” and our astrophysics friends have put together many models out there showing this is indeed possible for a good fraction of the black holes that produce gravitational-wave events. So here we ask the data: given the events LIGO and Virgo have seen so far, what’s the evidence for mass-ratio reversal in binary stars? Read Matt’s paper to find out.
Matthew Mould, Davide Gerosa, Floor S. Broekgaarden, Nathan Steinle