On the rate of neutron star binary mergers from globular clusters

Claire S. Ye*, Wen fai Fong, Kyle Kremer, Carl L. Rodriguez, Sourav Chatterjee, Giacomo Fragione, Frederic A. Rasio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The first detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star–neutron star (NS–NS) merger, GW170817, and the increasing number of observations of short gamma-ray bursts have greatly motivated studies of the origins of NS–NS and neutron star–black hole (NS–BH) binaries. We calculate the merger rates of NS–NS and NS–BH binaries from globular clusters (GCs) using realistic GC simulations with the CMC Cluster Catalog. We use a large sample of models with a range of initial numbers of stars, metallicities, virial radii, and galactocentric distances, representative of the present-day Milky Way GCs, to quantify the inspiral times and volumetric merger rates as a function of redshift, both inside and ejected from clusters. We find that over the complete lifetime of most GCs, stellar BHs dominate the cluster cores and prevent the mass segregation of NSs, thereby reducing the dynamical interaction rates of NSs so that at most a few NS binary mergers are ever produced. We estimate the merger rate in the local universe to be ∼0.02 Gpc−3 yr−1 for both NS–NS and NS–BH binaries, or a total of ∼0.04 Gpc−3 yr−1 for both populations. These rates are about 5 orders of magnitude below the current empirical merger rate from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory/Virgo. We conclude that dynamical interactions in GCs do not play a significant role in enhancing the NS–NS and NS–BH merger rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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