Demographics of Neutron Stars in Young Massive and Open Clusters

Giacomo Fragione, Sambaran Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Star clusters appear to be the ideal environment for the assembly of neutron star-neutron star (NS-NS) and black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) binaries. These binaries are among the most interesting astrophysical objects, being potential sources of gravitational waves (GWs) and gamma-ray bursts. We use for the first time high-precision N-body simulations of young massive and open clusters to study the origin and dynamical evolution of NSs, within clusters with different initial masses, metallicities, primordial binary fractions, and prescriptions for the compact object natal kicks at birth. We find that the radial profile of NSs is shaped by the BH content of the cluster, which partially quenches the NS segregation due to the BH-burning process. This leaves most of the NSs out of the densest cluster regions, where NS-NS and BH-NS binaries could potentially form. Due to a large velocity kick that they receive at birth, most of the NSs escape the host clusters, with the bulk of their retained population made up of NSs of ∼1.3 M⊙ coming from the electron-capture supernova process. The details of the primordial binary fraction and pairing can smear out this trend. Finally, we find that a subset of our models produce NS-NS mergers, leading to a rate of ∼0.01-0.1 Gpc-3yr-1 in the local universe, and compute an upper limit of ∼3 × 10-2-3 × 10-3 Gpc-3 yr-1 for the BH-NS merger rate. Our estimates are several orders of magnitude smaller than the current empirical merger rate from LIGO/Virgo, in agreement with the recent rate estimates for old globular clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL16
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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