Formation of merging double compact objects

In recent years the field of gravitational-wave astrophysics has evolved from speculating about the properties of compact binary coalescence events to having a substantial population primed for astrophysical inference. As the endpoint of massive-star evolution, merging double compact objects can encode unique information about their progenitor systems, such as the types of galactic environments they were born in and their formation processes, the complex stellar evolution that persisted throughout their lives, and the physics of the supernovae that marked their deaths. On the other hand, coalescing compact object binaries have a disparate array of proposed formation channels,  inclcuding of a possible cosmological origin, further complicating the interpretation of their formation mechanisms. Population inference leverages the ever-increasing sample of gravitational-wave detections and theoretical model predictions of their formation channels to constrain the still unknown origin of the observed sample of merging compact objects.

Image credit: LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA / Aaron Geller / Northwestern