skip to main content

Title: How Binaries Accrete: Hydrodynamic Simulations with Passive Tracer Particles
Abstract Linear analysis of gas flows around orbiting binaries suggests that a centrifugal barrier ought to clear a low-density cavity around the binary and inhibit mass transfer onto it. Modern hydrodynamics simulations have confirmed the low-density cavity, but show that any mass flowing from large scales into the circumbinary disk is eventually transferred onto the binary components. Even though many numerical studies confirm this picture, it is still not understood precisely how gas parcels overcome the centrifugal barrier and ultimately accrete. We present a detailed analysis of the binary accretion process, using an accurate prescription for evolving grid-based hydrodynamics with Lagrangian tracer particles that track the trajectories of individual gas parcels. We find that binary accretion can be described in four phases: (1) gas is viscously transported through the circumbinary disk up to the centrifugal barrier at the cavity wall, (2) the cavity wall is tidally distorted into accretion streams consisting of near-ballistic gas parcels on eccentric orbits, (3) the portion of each stream moving inwards of an accretion horizon radius r ¯ ≃ a —the radius beyond which no material is returned to the cavity wall—becomes bound to a minidisk orbiting an individual binary component, and (4) the minidisk gas accretes onto the binary component through the combined effect of viscous and tidal stresses.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2006176 1715661
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We show that gas disks around the components of an orbiting binary system (so-called minidisks) may be susceptible to a resonant instability that causes the minidisks to become significantly eccentric. Eccentricity is injected by, and also induces, regular impacts between the minidisks at roughly the orbital period of the binary. Such eccentric minidisks are seen in vertically integrated, two-dimensional simulations of a circular, equal-mass binary accreting from a circumbinary gas disk with a Γ-law equation of state. Minidisk eccentricity is suppressed by the use of an isothermal equation of state. However, the instability still operates and can be revealed in a minimal disk-binary simulation by removing the circumbinary disk and feeding the minidisks from the component positions. Minidisk eccentricity is also suppressed when the gravitational softening length is large (≳4% of the binary semimajor axis), suggesting that its absence could be an artifact of widely adopted numerical approximations; a follow-up study in three dimensions with well-resolved, geometrically thin minidisks (aspect ratios ≲0.02) may be needed to assess whether eccentric minidisks can occur in real astrophysical environments. If they can, the electromagnetic signature may be important for discriminating between binary and single black hole scenarios for quasiperiodic oscillations in active galactic nuclei; in turn, this might aid in targeted searches with pulsar timing arrays for individual supermassive black hole binary sources of low-frequency gravitational waves.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract We report an Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array 0.88 mm (Band 7) continuum detection of the accretion disk around SR 12 c, an ∼11 M Jup planetary-mass companion (PMC) orbiting its host binary at 980 au. This is the first submillimeter detection of a circumplanetary disk around a wide PMC. The disk has a flux density of 127 ± 14 μ Jy and is not resolved by the ∼0.″1 beam, so the dust disk radius is likely less than 5 au and can be much smaller if the dust continuum is optically thick. If, however, the dust emission is optically thin, then the SR 12 c disk has a comparable dust mass to the circumplanetary disk around PDS 70 c but is about five times lower than that of the ∼12 M Jup free-floating OTS 44. This suggests that disks around bound and unbound planetary-mass objects can span a wide range of masses. The gas mass estimated with an accretion rate of 10 −11 M ☉ yr −1 implies a gas-to-dust ratio higher than 100. If cloud absorption is not significant, a nondetection of 12 CO(3–2) implies a compact gas disk around SR 12 c. Future sensitive observations may detect more PMC disks at 0.88 mm flux densities of ≲100 μ Jy. 
    more » « less
  3. Aims. We present high-sensitivity and high spectral-resolution NOEMA observations of the Class 0/I binary system SVS13A, composed of the low-mass protostars VLA4A and VLA4B, with a separation of ~90 au. VLA4A is undergoing an accretion burst that is enriching the chemistry of the surrounding gas, which provides an excellent opportunity to probe the chemical and physical conditions as well as the accretion process. Methods. We observe the (12 K –11 K ) lines of CH 3 CN and CH 3 13 CN, the DCN (3–2) line, and the C 18 O (2–1) line toward SVS13A using NOEMA. Results. We find complex line profiles at disk scales that cannot be explained by a single component or pure Keplerian motion. By adopting two velocity components to model the complex line profiles, we find that the temperatures and densities are significantly different among these two components. This suggests that the physical conditions of the emitting gas traced via CH 3 CN can change dramatically within the circumbinary disk. In addition, combining our observations of DCN (3–2) with previous ALMA observations at high angular resolution, we find that the binary system (or VLA4A) might be fed by an infalling streamer from envelope scales (~700 au). If this is the case, this streamer contributes to the accretion of material onto the system at a rate of at least 1.4 × 10 −6 M ⊙ yr −1 . Conclusions. We conclude that the CH 3 CN emission in SVS13A traces hot gas from a complex structure. This complexity might be affected by a streamer that is possibly infalling and funneling material into the central region. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We examine the geometry of the post–asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star binary AC Her and its circumbinary disk. We show that the observations describe a binary orbit that is perpendicular to the disk with an angular momentum vector that is within 9° of the binary eccentricity vector, meaning that the disk is close to a stable polar alignment. The most likely explanation for the very large inner radius of the dust is a planet within the circumbinary disk. This is therefore both the first reported detection of a polar circumbinary disk around a post-AGB binary and the first evidence of a polar circumbinary planet. We consider the dynamical constraints on the circumbinary disk size and mass. The polar circumbinary disk feeds circumstellar disks with gas on orbits that are highly inclined with respect to the binary orbit plane. The resulting circumstellar disk inclination could be anywhere from coplanar to polar depending upon the competition between the mass accretion and binary torques.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We present fully relativistic predictions for the electromagnetic emission produced by accretion disks surrounding spinning and nonspinning supermassive binary black holes on the verge of merging. We use the codeBothrosto post-process data from 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations via ray-tracing calculations. These simulations model the dynamics of a circumbinary disk and the mini-disks that form around two equal-mass black holes orbiting each other at an initial separation of 20 gravitational radii, and evolve the system for more than 10 orbits in the inspiral regime. We model the emission as the sum of thermal blackbody radiation emitted by an optically thick accretion disk and a power-law spectrum extending to hard X-rays emitted by a hot optically thin corona. We generate time-dependent spectra, images, and light curves at various frequencies to investigate intrinsic periodic signals in the emission, as well as the effects of the black hole spin. We find that prograde black hole spin makes mini-disks brighter since the smaller innermost stable circular orbit angular momentum demands more dissipation before matter plunges to the horizon. However, compared to mini-disks in larger separation binaries with spinning black holes, our mini-disks are less luminous: unlike those systems, their mass accretion rate is lower than in the circumbinary disk, and they radiate with lower efficiency because their inflow times are shorter. Compared to a single black hole system matched in mass and accretion rate, these binaries have spectra noticeably weaker and softer in the UV. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for the potential observability of these systems.

    more » « less