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Black hole growth through hierarchical black hole mergers in dense star clusters: implications for gravitational wave detections

Antonini, Fabio, Gieles, Mark and Gualandris, Alessia (2019) Black hole growth through hierarchical black hole mergers in dense star clusters: implications for gravitational wave detections Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 486 (4). pp. 5008-5021.

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Abstract

In a star cluster with a sufficiently large escape velocity, black holes (BHs) that are produced by BH mergers can be retained, dynamically form new BH binaries, and merge again. This process can repeat several times and lead to significant mass growth. In this paper, we calculate the mass of the largest BH that can form through repeated BH mergers and determine how its value depends on the physical properties of the host cluster. We adopt an analytical model in which the energy generated by the black hole binaries in the cluster core is assumed to be regulated by the process of two-body relaxation in the bulk of the system. This principle is used to compute the hardening rate of the binaries and to relate this to the time-dependent global properties of the parent cluster. We demonstrate that in clusters with initial escape velocity ≳300kms−1 in the core and density ≳105M⊙⁠pc−3⁠, repeated mergers lead to the formation of BHs in the mass range 100−105M⊙⁠, populating any upper mass gap created by pair-instability supernovae. This result is independent of cluster metallicity and the initial BH spin distribution. We show that about 10 per cent of the present-day nuclear star clusters meet these extreme conditions, and estimate that BH binary mergers with total mass ≳100M⊙⁠ should be produced in these systems at a maximum rate ≈0.05Gpc−3yr−1⁠, corresponding to one detectable event every few years with Advanced LIGO/Virgo at design sensitivity.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Physics
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Antonini, Fabiof.antonini@surrey.ac.uk
Gieles, Markm.gieles@surrey.ac.uk
Gualandris, Alessiaa.gualandris@surrey.ac.uk
Date : 11 May 2019
Funders : Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Royal Society, European Research Council (ERC)
DOI : 10.1093/mnras/stz1149
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
Uncontrolled Keywords : Black hole physics; Gravitational waves; Stars: kinematics and dynamics.
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 20 May 2019 15:30
Last Modified : 20 May 2019 15:30
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/851870

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