skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Collapsar Gamma-Ray Bursts Grind Their Black Hole Spins to a Halt

The spin of a newly formed black hole (BH) at the center of a massive star evolves from its natal value due to two competing processes: accretion of gas angular momentum that increases the spin and extraction of BH angular momentum by outflows that decreases the spin. Ultimately, the final, equilibrium spin is set by a balance between both processes. In order for the BH to launch relativistic jets and power aγ-ray burst (GRB), the BH magnetic field needs to be dynamically important. Thus, we consider the case of a magnetically arrested disk (MAD) driving the spin evolution of the BH. By applying the semianalytic MAD BH spin evolution model of Lowell et al. to collapsars, we show that if the BH accretes ∼20% of its initial mass, its dimensionless spin inevitably reaches small values,a≲ 0.2. For such spins, and for mass accretion rates inferred from collapsar simulations, we show that our semianalytic model reproduces the energetics of typical GRB jets,Ljet∼ 1050erg s−1. We show that our semianalytic model reproduces the nearly constant power of typical GRB jets. If the MAD onset is delayed, this allows powerful jets at the high end of the GRB luminosity distribution,Ljet∼ 1052erg s−1, but the final spin remains low,a≲ 0.3. These results are consistent with the low spins inferred from gravitational wave detections of binary BH mergers. In a companion paper by Gottlieb et al., we use GRB observations to constrain the natal BH spin to bea≃ 0.2.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 212
["Article No. 212"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Black hole (BH) spin can play an important role in galaxy evolution by controlling the amount of energy and momentum ejected from near the BH into the surroundings. We focus on radiatively inefficient and geometrically thick magnetically arrested disks (MADs) that can launch strong BH-powered jets. With an appropriately chosen adiabatic index, these systems can describe either the low-luminosity or highly super-Eddington BH accretion regimes. Using a suite of 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations, we find that for any initial spin, an MAD rapidly spins down the BH to the equilibrium spin of 0 <aeq≲ 0.1, very low compared toaeq= 1 for the standard thin luminous (Novikov–Thorne) disks. This implies that rapidly accreting (super-Eddington) BHs fed by MADs tend to lose most of their rotational energy to magnetized relativistic outflows. In an MAD, a BH only needs to accrete 20% of its own mass to spin down froma= 1–0.2. We construct a semi-analytic model of BH spin evolution in MADs by taking into account the torques on the BH due to both the hydrodynamic disk and electromagnetic jet components, and find that the low value ofaeqis due to both the jets slowing down the BH rotation and the disk losing a large fraction of its angular momentum to outflows. Our results have crucial implications for how BH spins evolve in active galaxies and other systems such as collapsars, where the BH spin-down timescale can be short enough to significantly affect the evolution of gamma-ray emitting BH-powered jets.

    more » « less
  2. All ten LIGO/Virgo binary black hole (BH-BH) coalescences reported following the O1/O2 runs have near-zero effective spins. There are only three potential explanations for this. If the BH spin magnitudes are large, then: (i) either both BH spin vectors must be nearly in the orbital plane or (ii) the spin angular momenta of the BHs must be oppositely directed and similar in magnitude. Then there is also the possibility that (iii) the BH spin magnitudes are small. We consider the third hypothesis within the framework of the classical isolated binary evolution scenario of the BH-BH merger formation. We test three models of angular momentum transport in massive stars: a mildly efficient transport by meridional currents (as employed in the Geneva code), an efficient transport by the Tayler-Spruit magnetic dynamo (as implemented in the MESA code), and a very-efficient transport (as proposed by Fuller et al.) to calculate natal BH spins. We allow for binary evolution to increase the BH spins through accretion and account for the potential spin-up of stars through tidal interactions. Additionally, we update the calculations of the stellar-origin BH masses, including revisions to the history of star formation and to the chemical evolution across cosmic time. We find that we can simultaneously match the observed BH-BH merger rate density and BH masses and BH-BH effective spins. Models with efficient angular momentum transport are favored. The updated stellar-mass weighted gas-phase metallicity evolution now used in our models appears to be key for obtaining an improved reproduction of the LIGO/Virgo merger rate estimate. Mass losses during the pair-instability pulsation supernova phase are likely to be overestimated if the merger GW170729 hosts a BH more massive than 50  M ⊙ . We also estimate rates of black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) mergers from recent LIGO/Virgo observations. If, in fact. angular momentum transport in massive stars is efficient, then any (electromagnetic or gravitational wave) observation of a rapidly spinning BH would indicate either a very effective tidal spin up of the progenitor star (homogeneous evolution, high-mass X-ray binary formation through case A mass transfer, or a spin- up of a Wolf-Rayet star in a close binary by a close companion), significant mass accretion by the hole, or a BH formation through the merger of two or more BHs (in a dense stellar cluster). 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Spinning supermassive black holes (BHs) in active galactic nuclei magnetically launch relativistic collimated outflows, or jets. Without angular momentum supply, such jets are thought to perish within 3 orders of magnitude in distance from the BH, well before reaching kiloparsec scales. We study the survival of such jets at the largest scale separation to date, via 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of rapidly spinning BHs immersed into uniform zero-angular-momentum gas threaded by a weak vertical magnetic field. We place the gas outside the BH sphere of influence, or the Bondi radius, chosen to be much larger than the BH gravitational radius,RB= 103Rg. The BH develops dynamically important large-scale magnetic fields, forms a magnetically arrested disk (MAD), and launches relativistic jets that propagate well outsideRBand suppress BH accretion to 1.5% of the Bondi rate,ṀB. Thus, low-angular-momentum accretion in the MAD state can form large-scale jets in Fanaroff–Riley (FR) type I and II galaxies. Subsequently, the disk shrinks and exits the MAD state: barely a disk (BAD), it rapidly precesses, whips the jets around, globally destroys them, and lets 5%–10% ofṀBreach the BH. Thereafter, the disk starts rocking back and forth by angles 90°–180°: the rocking accretion disk (RAD) launches weak intermittent jets that spread their energy over a large area and suppress BH accretion to ≲2%ṀB. Because the BAD and RAD states tangle up the jets and destroy them well insideRB, they are promising candidates for the more abundant, but less luminous, class of FR0 galaxies.

    more » « less

    We present a suite of the first 3D GRMHD collapsar simulations, which extend from the self-consistent jet launching by an accreting Kerr black hole (BH) to the breakout from the star. We identify three types of outflows, depending on the angular momentum, l, of the collapsing material and the magnetic field, B, on the BH horizon: (i) subrelativistic outflow (low l and high B), (ii) stationary accretion shock instability (SASI; high l and low B), (iii) relativistic jets (high l and high B). In the absence of jets, free-fall of the stellar envelope provides a good estimate for the BH accretion rate. Jets can substantially suppress the accretion rate, and their duration can be limited by the magnetization profile in the star. We find that progenitors with large (steep) inner density power-law indices (≳ 2), face extreme challenges as gamma-ray burst (GRB) progenitors due to excessive luminosity, global time evolution in the light curve throughout the burst and short breakout times, inconsistent with observations. Our results suggest that the wide variety of observed explosion appearances (supernova/supernova + GRB/low-luminosity GRBs) and the characteristics of the emitting relativistic outflows (luminosity and duration) can be naturally explained by the differences in the progenitor structure. Our simulations reveal several important jet features: (i) strong magnetic dissipation inside the star, resulting in weakly magnetized jets by breakout that may have significant photospheric emission and (ii) spontaneous emergence of tilted accretion disc-jet flows, even in the absence of any tilt in the progenitor.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The conventional accretion disk lore is that magnetized turbulence is the principal angular momentum transport process that drives accretion. However, when dynamically important large-scale magnetic fields thread an accretion disk, they can produce mass and angular momentum outflows, known as winds,that also drive accretion. Yet, the relative importance of turbulent and wind-driven angular momentum transport is still poorly understood. To probe this question, we analyze a long-duration (1.2 × 105rg/c) simulation of a rapidly rotating (a= 0.9) black hole feeding from a thick (H/r∼ 0.3), adiabatic, magnetically arrested disk (MAD), whose dynamically important magnetic field regulates mass inflow and drives both uncollimated and collimated outflows (i.e., winds and jets, respectively). By carefully disentangling the various angular momentum transport processes within the system, we demonstrate the novel result that disk winds and disk turbulence both extract roughly equal amounts of angular momentum from the disk. We find cumulative angular momentum and mass accretion outflow rates ofL̇r0.9andṀr0.4, respectively. This result suggests that understanding both turbulent and laminar stresses is key to understanding the evolution of systems where geometrically thick MADs can occur, such as the hard state of X-ray binaries, low-luminosity active galactic nuclei, some tidal disruption events, and possibly gamma-ray bursts.

    more » « less