skip to main content

Title: ESPRESSO Observations of Gaia BH1: High-precision Orbital Constraints and no Evidence for an Inner Binary

We present high-precision radial velocity observations of Gaia BH1, the nearest known black hole (BH). The system contains a solar-type G star orbiting a massive dark companion, which could be either a single BH or an inner BH + BH binary. A BH + BH binary is expected in some models where Gaia BH1 formed as a hierarchical triple, which is attractive because they avoid many of the difficulties associated with forming the system through isolated binary evolution. Our observations test the inner binary scenario. We have measured 115 precise RVs of the G star, including 40 from ESPRESSO with a precision of 3–5 m s−1, and 75 from other instruments with a typical precision of 30–100 m s−1. Our observations span 2.33 orbits of the G star and are concentrated near a periastron passage, when perturbations due to an inner binary would be largest. The RVs are well-fit by a Keplerian two-body orbit and show no convincing evidence of an inner binary. UsingREBOUNDsimulations of hierarchical triples with a range of inner periods, mass ratios, eccentricities, and orientations, we show that plausible inner binaries with periodsPinner≳ 1.5 days would have produced larger deviations from a Keplerian orbit than observed. Binaries withPinner≲ 1.5 days are consistent with the data, but these would merge within a Hubble time and would thus imply fine-tuning. We present updated parameters of Gaia BH1's orbit. The RVs yield a spectroscopic mass functionfMBH=3.9358±0.0002M—about 7000σabove the ∼2.5Mmaximum neutron star mass. Including the inclination constraint from Gaia astrometry, this implies a BH mass ofMBH= 9.27 ± 0.10M.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
IOP Publishing
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Medium: X Size: Article No. 014202
["Article No. 014202"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The merger of two galaxies, each hosting a supermassive black hole (SMBH) of mass 106Mor more, could yield a bound SMBH binary. For the early-type galaxy NGC 4472, we study how astrometry with a next-generation Very Large Array could be used to monitor the reflex motion of the primary SMBH of massMpri, as it is tugged on by the secondary SMBH of massMsec. Casting the orbit of the putative SMBH binary in terms of its periodP, semimajor axisabin, and mass ratioq=Msec/Mpri1, we find the following: (1) Orbits with fiducial periods ofP= 4 yr and 40 yr could be spatially resolved and monitored. (2) For a 95% accuracy of 2μas per monitoring epoch, subparsec values ofabincould be accessed over a range of mass ratios notionally encompassing majorq>14and minorq<14galaxy mergers. (3) If no reflex motion is detected forMpriafter 1 (10) yr of monitoring, an SMBH binary with periodP= 4 (40) yr and mass ratioq> 0.01 (0.003) could be excluded. This would suggest no present-day evidence for a past major merger like that recently simulated, where scouring by aq∼ 1 SMBH binary formed a stellar core with kinematic traits like those of NGC 4472. (4) Astrometric monitoring could independently check the upper limits onqfrom searches for continuous gravitational waves from NGC 4472.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We present a stellar dynamical mass measurement of a newly detected supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center of the fast-rotating, massive elliptical galaxy NGC 2693 as part of the MASSIVE survey. We combine high signal-to-noise ratio integral field spectroscopy (IFS) from the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph with wide-field data from the Mitchell Spectrograph at McDonald Observatory to extract and model stellar kinematics of NGC 2693 from the central ∼150 pc out to ∼2.5 effective radii. Observations from Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 are used to determine the stellar light distribution. We perform fully triaxial Schwarzschild orbit modeling using the latest TriOS code and a Bayesian search in 6D galaxy model parameter space to determine NGC 2693's SMBH mass (MBH), stellar mass-to-light ratio, dark matter content, and intrinsic shape. We findMBH=1.7±0.4×109Mand a triaxial intrinsic shape with axis ratiosp=b/a= 0.902 ± 0.009 andq=c/a=0.7210.010+0.011, triaxiality parameterT= 0.39 ± 0.04. In comparison, the best-fit orbit model in the axisymmetric limit and (cylindrical) Jeans anisotropic model of NGC 2693 preferMBH=2.4±0.6×109MandMBH=2.9±0.3×109M, respectively. Neither model can account for the non-axisymmetric stellar velocity features present in the IFS data.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We use 23 yr of astrometric and radial velocity data on the orbit of the star S0-2 to constrain a hypothetical intermediate-mass black hole orbiting the massive black hole Sgr A* at the Galactic center. The data place upper limits on variations of the orientation of the stellar orbit at levels between 0.°02 and 0.°07 per year. We use a combination of analytic estimates and full numerical integrations of the orbit of S0-2 in the presence of a black hole binary. For a companion intermediate-mass black hole outside the orbit of S0-2 (1020 au), we find that a companion black hole with massmcbetween 103and 105Mis excluded, with a boundary behaving asacmc1/3. For a companion withac< 1020 au, a black hole with mass between 103and 105Mis excluded, withacmc1/2. These bounds arise from quadrupolar perturbations of the orbit of S0-2. Significantly stronger bounds on an inner companion arise from the fact that the location of S0-2 is measured relative to the bright emission of Sgr A* and that separation is perturbed by the “wobble” of Sgr A* about the center of mass between it and the companion. The result is a set of bounds as small as 400Mat 200 au; the numerical simulations suggest a bound from these effects varying asacmc1. We compare and contrast our results with those from a recent analysis by the GRAVITY collaboration.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We conduct a systematic tidal disruption event (TDE) demographics analysis using the largest sample of optically selected TDEs. A flux-limited, spectroscopically complete sample of 33 TDEs is constructed using the Zwicky Transient Facility over 3 yr (from 2018 October to 2021 September). We infer the black hole (BH) mass (MBH) with host galaxy scaling relations, showing that the sampleMBHranges from 105.1Mto 108.2M. We developed a survey efficiency corrected maximum volume method to infer the rates. The rest-frameg-band luminosity function can be well described by a broken power law ofϕ(Lg)Lg/Lbk0.3+Lg/Lbk2.61, withLbk= 1043.1erg s−1. In the BH mass regime of 105.3≲ (MBH/M) ≲ 107.3, the TDE mass function followsϕ(MBH)MBH0.25, which favors a flat local BH mass function (dnBH/dlogMBHconstant). We confirm the significant rate suppression at the high-mass end (MBH≳ 107.5M), which is consistent with theoretical predictions considering direct capture of hydrogen-burning stars by the event horizon. At a host galaxy mass ofMgal∼ 1010M, the average optical TDE rate is ≈3.2 × 10−5galaxy−1yr−1. We constrain the optical TDE rate to be [3.7, 7.4, and 1.6] × 10−5galaxy−1yr−1in galaxies with red, green, and blue colors.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    A star completely destroyed in a tidal disruption event (TDE) ignites a luminous flare that is powered by the fallback of tidally stripped debris to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) of massM. We analyze two estimates for the peak fallback rate in a TDE, one being the “frozen-in” model, which predicts a strong dependence of the time to peak fallback rate,tpeak, on both stellar mass and age, with 15 days ≲tpeak≲ 10 yr for main sequence stars with masses 0.2 ≤M/M≤ 5 andM= 106M. The second estimate, which postulates that the star is completely destroyed when tides dominate the maximum stellar self-gravity, predicts thattpeakis very weakly dependent on stellar type, withtpeak=23.2±4.0daysM/106M1/2for 0.2 ≤M/M≤ 5, whiletpeak=29.8±3.6daysM/106M1/2for a Kroupa initial mass function truncated at 1.5M. This second estimate also agrees closely with hydrodynamical simulations, while the frozen-in model is discrepant by orders of magnitude. We conclude that (1) the time to peak luminosity in complete TDEs is almost exclusively determined by SMBH mass, and (2) massive-star TDEs power the largest accretion luminosities. Consequently, (a) decades-long extra-galactic outbursts cannot be powered by complete TDEs, including massive-star disruptions, and (b) the most highly super-Eddington TDEs are powered by the complete disruption of massive stars, which—if responsible for producing jetted TDEs—would explain the rarity of jetted TDEs and their preference for young and star-forming host galaxies.

    more » « less