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Title: Electromagnetic Signatures from Supermassive Binary Black Holes Approaching Merger

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 more » 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.

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Award ID(s):
2110338 2018420 2031744 1811228 2009330 1912632 1707946 1707826 2009260
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 137
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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