The Growth of Stellar Mass Black Hole Binaries Trapped in the Accretion Disks of Active Galactic Nuclei

Shu Xu Yi, K. S. Cheng, Ronald E. Taam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among the four black hole (BH) binary merger events detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), six progenitor BHs have masses greater than 20 M o. The existence of such massive BHs suggests that extreme metal-poor stars are the progenitors. An alternative possibility, that a pair of stellar mass BHs each with mass ∼7 M o increases to >20 M o via accretion from a disk surrounding a supermassive BH (SMBH) in an active galactic nucleus (AGN), is considered. The growth of mass of the binary and the transfer of orbital angular momentum to the disk accelerates the merger. Based on the recent numerical work of Tang et al., it is found that, in the disk of a low-mass AGN with mass ∼106 M o and Eddington ratio >0.01, the mass of an individual BH in the binary can grow to >20 M o before coalescence, provided that accretion takes place at a rate more than 10 times the Eddington value. This mechanism predicts a new class of gravitational wave (GW) sources involving the merger of two extreme Kerr black holes associated with AGNs and a possible electromagnetic wave counterpart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL25
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume859
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Keywords

  • galaxies: nuclei
  • gravitational waves
  • stars: black holes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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