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Black hole binary mergers in dense star clusters: the importance of primordial binaries

Barber, Jordan, Chattopadhyay, Debatri and Antonini, Fabio ORCID: 2024. Black hole binary mergers in dense star clusters: the importance of primordial binaries. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 527 (3) , 7363–7381. 10.1093/mnras/stad3600

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Dense stellar clusters are expected to house the ideal conditions for binary black hole (BBH) formation, both through binary stellar evolution and through dynamical encounters. We use theoretical arguments as well as N-body simulations to make predictions for the evolution of BBHs formed through stellar evolution inside clusters from the cluster birth (which we term primordial binaries), and for the sub-population of merging BBHs. We identify three key populations: (i) BBHs that form in the cluster, and merge before experiencing any strong dynamical interaction; (ii) binaries that are ejected from the cluster after only one dynamical interaction; and (iii) BBHs that experience more than one strong interaction inside the cluster. We find that populations (i) and (ii) are the dominant source of all BBH mergers formed in clusters with escape velocity vesc ≤ 30 ⁠. At higher escape velocities, dynamics are predicted to play a major role both for the formation and subsequent evolution of BBHs. Finally, we argue that for sub-Solar metallicity clusters with vesc ≲ 100 ⁠, the dominant form of interaction experienced by primordial BBHs (BBHs formed from primordial binaries) within the cluster is with other BBHs. The complexity of these binary–binary interactions will complicate the future evolution of the BBH and influence the total number of mergers produced.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0035-8711
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 January 2024
Date of Acceptance: 16 November 2023
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 10:30

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