Gravitational-wave astronomy has been firmly established with the
detection of gravitational waves from the merger of ten stellar-mass
binary black holes and a neutron star binary. This paper reports on the
all-sky search for gravitational waves from intermediate mass black hole
binaries in the first and second observing runs of the Advanced LIGO
and Virgo network. The search uses three independent algorithms: two
based on matched filtering of the data with waveform templates of
gravitational-wave signals from compact binaries, and a third,
model-independent algorithm that employs no signal model for the
incoming signal. No intermediate mass black hole binary event is
detected in this search. Consequently, we place upper limits on the
merger rate density for a family of intermediate mass black hole
binaries. In particular, we choose sources with total masses M=m1+m2∈[120,800] M⊙ and mass ratios q=m2/m1∈[0.1,1.0].
For the first time, this calculation is done using numerical relativity
waveforms (which include higher modes) as models of the real emitted
signal. We place a most stringent upper limit of 0.20 Gpc−3 yr−1 (in comoving units at the 90% confidence level) for equal-mass binaries with individual masses m1,2=100 M⊙ and dimensionless spins χ1,2=0.8 aligned with the orbital angular momentum of the binary. This improves by a factor of ∼5 that reported after Advanced LIGO’s first observing run.