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Dynamical Evolution and Merger Timescales of LISA Massive Black Hole Binaries in Disk Galaxy Mergers


Khan, Fazeel M; Capelo, Pedro R; Mayer, Lucio; Berczik, Peter (2018). Dynamical Evolution and Merger Timescales of LISA Massive Black Hole Binaries in Disk Galaxy Mergers. The Astrophysical Journal, 868:97.

Abstract

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will detect gravitational-wave (GW) signals from merging supermassive black holes (BHs) with masses below 107 M ⊙. It is thus of paramount importance to understand the orbital dynamics of these relatively light central BHs, which typically reside in disk-dominated galaxies, in order to produce reliable forecasts of merger rates. To this aim, realistic simulations probing BH dynamics in unequal-mass disk galaxy mergers, into and beyond the binary hardening stage, are performed by combining smooth particle hydrodynamics and direct N-body codes. The structural properties and orbits of the galaxies are chosen to be consistent with the results of galaxy formation simulations. Stellar and dark matter distributions are triaxial down to the central 100 pc of the merger remnant. In all cases, a BH binary forms and hardens on timescales of at most 100 Myr, coalescing on another few-hundred-megayear timescale, depending on the characteristic density and orbital eccentricity. Overall, the sinking of the BH binary takes no more than ~0.5 Gyr after the merger of the two galaxies is completed, but it can be much faster for very plunging orbits. Comparing with previous numerical simulations following the decay of BHs in massive early-type galaxies at z ~ 3, we confirm that the characteristic density is the most crucial parameter determining the overall BH merging timescale, despite the structural diversity of the host galaxies. Our results lay down the basis for robust forecasts of LISA event rates in the case of merging BHs.

Abstract

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will detect gravitational-wave (GW) signals from merging supermassive black holes (BHs) with masses below 107 M ⊙. It is thus of paramount importance to understand the orbital dynamics of these relatively light central BHs, which typically reside in disk-dominated galaxies, in order to produce reliable forecasts of merger rates. To this aim, realistic simulations probing BH dynamics in unequal-mass disk galaxy mergers, into and beyond the binary hardening stage, are performed by combining smooth particle hydrodynamics and direct N-body codes. The structural properties and orbits of the galaxies are chosen to be consistent with the results of galaxy formation simulations. Stellar and dark matter distributions are triaxial down to the central 100 pc of the merger remnant. In all cases, a BH binary forms and hardens on timescales of at most 100 Myr, coalescing on another few-hundred-megayear timescale, depending on the characteristic density and orbital eccentricity. Overall, the sinking of the BH binary takes no more than ~0.5 Gyr after the merger of the two galaxies is completed, but it can be much faster for very plunging orbits. Comparing with previous numerical simulations following the decay of BHs in massive early-type galaxies at z ~ 3, we confirm that the characteristic density is the most crucial parameter determining the overall BH merging timescale, despite the structural diversity of the host galaxies. Our results lay down the basis for robust forecasts of LISA event rates in the case of merging BHs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Space and Planetary Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Language:English
Date:27 November 2018
Deposited On:05 Mar 2019 14:45
Last Modified:05 Mar 2019 14:45
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1538-4357
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/aae77b

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