Calibrating the binary black hole population in nuclear star clusters through tidal disruption events

Giacomo Fragione*, Rosalba Perna, Abraham Loeb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As the sensitivity of gravitational wave (GW) instruments improves and new networks start operating, hundreds of merging stellar-mass black holes (SBHs) and intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are expected to be observed in the next few years. The origin and distribution of SBH and IMBH binaries in various dynamical environments is a fundamental scientific question in GW astronomy. In this paper, we discuss ways tidal disruption events (TDEs) may provide a unique electromagnetic window into the assembly and merger of binary SBHs and IMBHs in nuclear star clusters (NSCs). We discuss how the host NSC mass and density and the slope of the BH mass function set the orbital properties and the masses of the binaries that undergo a TDE. For typical NSC properties, we predict a TDE rate of ∼10-6-10-7 yr-1 per galaxy. The light curve of TDEs in NSCs could be interrupted and modulated by the companion BH on the orbital period of the binary. These should be readily detectable by optical transient surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility and LSST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4307-4318
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: nuclei
  • stars: black holes
  • stars: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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