BLACK HOLE MERGERS and BLUE STRAGGLERS from HIERARCHICAL TRIPLES FORMED in GLOBULAR CLUSTERS

Fabio Antonini, Sourav Chatterjee, Carl L. Rodriguez, Meagan Morscher, Bharath Pattabiraman, Vicky Kalogera, Frederic A. Rasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hierarchical triple-star systems are expected to form frequently via close binary-binary encounters in the dense cores of globular clusters (GCs). In a sufficiently inclined triple, gravitational interactions between the inner and outer binary can cause large-amplitude oscillations in the eccentricity of the inner orbit ("Lidov-Kozai (LK) cycles"), which can lead to a collision and merger of the two inner components. In this paper we use Monte Carlo models of dense star clusters to identify all triple systems formed dynamically and we compute their evolution using a highly accurate three-body integrator which incorporates relativistic and tidal effects. We find that a large fraction of these triples evolve through a non-secular dynamical phase which can drive the inner binary to higher eccentricities than predicted by the standard secular perturbation theory (even including octupole-order terms). We place constraints on the importance of LK-induced mergers for producing: (i) gravitational wave sources detectable by Advanced LIGO (aLIGO), for triples with an inner pair of stellar black holes (BHs); and (ii) blue straggler stars, for triples with main-sequence-star components. We find a realistic aLIGO detection rate of BH mergers due to the LK mechanism of ∼1 yr-1, with about 20% of these having a finite eccentricity when they first chirp into the aLIGO frequency band. While rare, these events are likely to dominate among eccentric compact object inspirals that are potentially detectable by aLIGO. For blue stragglers, we find that the LK mechanism can contribute up to ∼10% of their total numbers in GCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume816
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2016

Keywords

  • blue stragglers
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • gravitational waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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