Formation and evolution of primordial black hole binaries in the early universe

Martti Raidal, Christian Spethmann, Ville Vaskonen, Hardi Veermäe

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167 Citations (Scopus)


The abundance of primordial black holes (PBHs) in the mass range 0.1-10 3 M o can potentially be tested by gravitational wave observations due to the large merger rate of PBH binaries formed in the early universe. To put the estimates of the latter on a firmer footing, we first derive analytical PBH merger rate for general PBH mass functions while imposing a minimal initial comoving distance between the binary and the PBH nearest to it, in order to pick only initial configurations where the binary would not get disrupted. We then study the formation and evolution of PBH binaries before recombination by performing N-body simulations. We find that the analytical estimate based on the tidally perturbed 2-body system strongly overestimates the present merger rate when PBHs comprise all dark matter, as most initial binaries are disrupted by the surrounding PBHs. This is mostly due to the formation of compact N-body systems at matter-radiation equality. However, if PBHs make up a small fraction of the dark matter, f PBH ≤ 10%, these estimates become more reliable. In that case, the merger rate observed by LIGO imposes the strongest constraint on the PBH abundance in the mass range 2-160 M o . Finally, we argue that, even if most initial PBH binaries are perturbed, the present BH-BH merger rate of binaries formed in the early universe is larger than (10) Gpc -3 yr -1 f PBH 3 .

Original languageEnglish
Article number018
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2019


  • dark matter simulations
  • dark matter theory
  • gravitational waves / sources
  • primordial black holes


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