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Title: Hydrodynamical evolution of black-hole binaries embedded in AGN discs – III. The effects of viscosity

Stellar-mass binary black holes (BBHs) embedded in active galactic nucleus (AGN) discs offer a distinct dynamical channel to produce black hole mergers detected in gravitational waves by LIGO/Virgo. To understand their orbital evolution through interactions with the disc gas, we perform a suite of two-dimensional high-resolution, local shearing box, viscous hydrodynamical simulations of equal-mass binaries. We find that viscosity not only smooths the flow structure around prograde circular binaries,but also greatly raises their accretion rates. The torque associated with accretion may be overwhelmingly positive and dominate over the gravitational torque at a high accretion rate. However, the accreted angular momentum per unit mass decreases with increasing viscosity, making it easier to shrink the binary orbit. In addition, retrograde binaries still experience rapid orbital decay, and prograde eccentric binaries still experience eccentricity damping. Our numerical experiments further show that prograde binaries are more likely to be hardened if the physical sizes of the accretors are sufficiently small such that the accretion rate is reduced. The dependence of the binary accretion rate on the accretor size can be weaken through boosted accretion either due to a high viscosity or a more isothermal-like equation of state. Our results widen the explored parameter space for the hydrodynamics of embedded BBHs and demonstrate that their orbital evolution in AGN discs is a complex, multifaceted problem.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 348-359
["p. 348-359"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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