Journal Article

A conservation-based method for simulating the inspiral of binary black holes

Yohai Meiron and Ari Laor

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 1, pages 117-128
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A conservation-based method for simulating the inspiral of binary black holes

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We present a new approach to studying the evolution of massive black hole binaries in a stellar environment. By imposing conservation of total energy and angular momentum in scattering experiments, we find the dissipation forces that are exerted on the black holes by the stars, and thus obtain the decaying path of the binary from the classical dynamical friction regime down to subparsec scales. Our scheme lies between scattering experiments and N-body simulations. While still resolving collisions between stars and black holes, it is fast enough and allows us to use a large enough number of particles to reach a smooth and convergent result. We studied both an equal mass and a 10:1 mass ratio binaries under various initial conditions. We show that while an equal mass binary stalls at a nearly circular orbit, a runaway growth of eccentricity occurs in the unequal mass case. This effect reduces the time-scale for black hole coalescence through gravitational radiation to well below the Hubble time, even in spherical and gasless systems formed by dry mergers.

Keywords: black hole physics; stars: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: nuclei

Journal Article.  10131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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