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Creators/Authors contains: "Fragione, Giacomo"

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  1. Abstract

    We apply for the first time orbit-averaged Monte Carlo star cluster simulations to study tidal tail and stellar stream formation from globular clusters (GCs), assuming a circular orbit in a time-independent spherical Galactic potential. Treating energetically unbound bodies—potential escapers (PEs)—as collisionless enables this fast but spherically symmetric method to capture asymmetric extratidal phenomena with exquisite detail. Reproducing stream features such as epicyclic overdensities, we show howreturning tidal tailscan form after the stream fully circumnavigates the Galaxy, enhancing the stream's velocity dispersion by several kilometers per second in our ideal case. While a truly clumpy, asymmetric, and evolving Galactic potential would greatly diffuse such tails, they warrant scrutiny as potentially excellent constraints on the Galaxy’s history and substructure. Reexamining the escape timescale Δtof PEs, we find new behavior related to chaotic scattering in the three-body problem; the Δtdistribution features sharp plateaus corresponding to distinct locally smooth patches of the chaotic saddle separating the phase-space basins of escape. We study for the first time Δtin an evolving cluster, finding thatΔt(EJ0.1,EJ0.4)for PEs with (low, high) Jacobi energyEJ, flatter than for a static cluster (EJ2). Accounting for cluster mass loss and internal evolution lowers the median Δtfrom ∼10 Gyr to ≲100 Myr. We finally outline potential improvements to escape in the Monte Carlo method intended to enable the first large grids of tidal tail/stellar stream models from full GC simulations and detailed comparison to stream observations.

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  2. Abstract

    Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are believed to be the missing link between the supermassive black holes (BHs) found at the centers of massive galaxies and BHs formed through stellar core collapse. One of the proposed mechanisms for their formation is a collisional runaway process in high-density young star clusters, where an unusually massive object forms through repeated stellar collisions and mergers, eventually collapsing to form an IMBH. This seed IMBH could then grow further through binary mergers with other stellar-mass BHs. Here we investigate the gravitational-wave (GW) signals produced during these later IMBH–BH mergers. We use a state-of-the-art semi-analytic approach to study the stellar dynamics and to characterize the rates and properties of IMBH–BH mergers. We also study the prospects for detection of these mergers by current and future GW observatories, both space-based (LISA) and ground-based (LIGO Voyager, Einstein Telescope, and Cosmic Explorer). We find that most of the merger signals could be detected, with some of them being multiband sources. Therefore, GWs represent a unique tool to test the collisional runaway scenario and to constrain the population of dynamically assembled IMBHs.

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    The motion of the centre of mass of a coalescing binary black hole (BBH) in a gravitational potential, imprints a line-of-sight acceleration (LOSA) on to the emitted gravitational-wave (GW) signal. The acceleration could be sufficiently large in dense stellar environments, such as globular clusters (GCs), to be detectable with next-generation space-based detectors. In this work, we use outputs of the cluster monte carlo (cmc) simulations of dense star clusters to forecast the distribution of detectable LOSAs in DECIGO and LISA eras. We study the effect of cluster properties – metallicity, virial and galactocentric radii – on the distribution of detectable accelerations, account for cosmologically motivated distributions of cluster formation times, masses, and metallicities, and also incorporate the delay time between the formation of BBHs and their merger in our analysis. We find that larger metallicities provide a larger fraction of detectable accelerations by virtue of a greater abundance of relatively lighter BBHs, which allow a higher number of GW cycles in the detectable frequency band. Conversely, smaller metallicities result in fewer detections, most of which come from relatively more massive BBHs with fewer cycles but larger LOSAs. We similarly find correlations between the virial radii of the clusters and the fractions of detectable accelerations. Our work, therefore, provides an important science case for space-based GW detectors in the context of probing GC properties via the detection of LOSAs of merging BBHs.

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    It has been argued that heavy binaries composed of neutron stars (NSs) and millisecond pulsars (MSPs) can end up in the outskirts of star clusters via an interaction with a massive black hole (BH) binary expelling them from the core. We argue here, however, that this mechanism will rarely account for such observed objects. Only for primary masses ≲100 M⊙ and a narrow range of orbital separations should a BH–BH binary be both dynamically hard and produce a sufficiently low recoil velocity to retain the NS binary in the cluster. Hence, BH binaries are in general likely to eject NSs from clusters. We explore several alternative mechanisms that would cause NS/MSP binaries to be observed in the outskirts of their host clusters after a Hubble time. The most likely mechanism is a three-body interaction involving the NS/MSP binary and a normal star. We compare to Monte Carlo simulations of cluster evolution for the globular clusters NGC 6752 and 47 Tuc, and show that the models not only confirm that normal three-body interactions involving all stellar-mass objects are the dominant mechanism for putting NS/MSP binaries into the cluster outskirts, but also reproduce the observed NS/MSP binary radial distributions without needing to invoke the presence of a massive BH binary. Higher central densities and an episode of core collapse can broaden the radial distributions of NSs/MSPs and NS/MSP binaries due to three-body interactions, making these clusters more likely to host NSs in the cluster outskirts.

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  5. Abstract With the growing number of binary black hole (BBH) mergers detected by LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA, several systems have become difficult to explain via isolated binary evolution, having components in the pair-instability mass gap, high orbital eccentricities, and/or spin–orbit misalignment. Here we focus on GW191109_010717, a BBH merger with component masses of 65 − 11 + 11 and 47 − 13 + 15 M ⊙ and an effective spin of − 0.29 − 0.31 + 0.42 , which could imply a spin–orbit misalignment of more than π /2 rad for at least one of its components. Besides its component masses being in the pair-instability mass gap, we show that isolated binary evolution is unlikely to reproduce the proposed spin–orbit misalignment of GW191109 with high confidence. On the other hand, we demonstrate that BBHs dynamically assembled in dense star clusters would naturally reproduce the spin–orbit misalignment and masses of GW191109 and the rates of GW191109-like events if at least one of the components were to be a second-generation BH. Finally, we generalize our results to all events with a measured negative effective spin, arguing that GW200225 also has a likely dynamical origin. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 21, 2024
  6. Abstract With about one hundred mergers of binary black holes (BBHs) detected via gravitational waves by the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) Collaboration, our understanding of the darkest objects in the universe has taken unparalleled steps forward. While most of the events are expected to consist of black holes (BHs) directly formed from the collapse of massive stars, some may contain the remnants of previous BBH mergers. In the most massive globular clusters and in nuclear star clusters, successive mergers can produce second- (2G) or higher-generation BHs, and even form intermediate-mass BHs (IMBHs). Overall, we predict that up to ∼10%, ∼1%, or ∼0.1% of the BBH mergers have one component being a 2G, 3G, or 4G BH, respectively. Assuming that ∼500 BBH mergers will be detected in O4 by LVK, this means that ∼50, ∼5, or ∼0.5 events, respectively, will involve a 2G, 3G, or 4G BH, if most sources are produced dynamically in dense star clusters. With their distinctive signatures of higher masses and spins, such hierarchical mergers offer an unprecedented opportunity to learn about the BH populations in the densest stellar systems and to shed light on the elusive IMBHs that may form therein. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  7. Abstract

    Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are the missing link between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes, widely believed to reside in at least some dense star clusters, but not yet observed directly. Tidal disruptions of white dwarfs (WDs) are luminous only for black holes less massive than ∼105M, therefore providing a unique smoking gun that could finally prove the existence of IMBHs beyond any reasonable doubt. Here, we investigate the tidal captures of WDs by IMBHs in dense star clusters, and estimate upper limits to the capture rates of ∼1 Myr−1for galactic nuclei and ∼0.01 Myr−1for globular clusters. Following the capture, the WD inspirals onto the IMBH, producing gravitational waves detectable out to ∼100 Mpc by LISA for ∼104MIMBHs. The subsequent tidal stripping/disruption of the WD can also release bright X-ray and gamma-ray emission with luminosities of at least ≳1040erg s−1, detectable by Chandra, Swift, and upcoming telescopes, such as the Einstein Probe.

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    Galactic nuclei are potential hosts for intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs), whose gravitational field can affect the motion of stars and compact objects. The absence of observable perturbations in our own Galactic Centre has resulted in a few constraints on the mass and orbit of a putative IMBH. Here, we show that the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) can further constrain these parameters if the IMBH forms a binary with a compact remnant (a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a stellar-mass black hole), as the gravitational-wave signal from the binary will exhibit Doppler-shift variations as it orbits around Sgr A*. We argue that this method is the most effective for IMBHs with masses $10^3\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot \lesssim M_{\rm IMBH}\lesssim 10^5\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot$ and distances of 0.1–2 mpc with respect to the supermassive black hole, a region of the parameter space partially unconstrained by other methods. We show that in this region the Doppler shift is most likely measurable whenever the binary is detected in the LISA band, and it can help constrain the mass and orbit of a putative IMBH in the centre of our Galaxy. We also discuss possible ways for an IMBH to form a binary in the Galactic Centre, showing that gravitational-wave captures of stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars are the most efficient channel.

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    Globular clusters (GCs) are found in all types of galaxies and harbour some of the most extreme stellar systems, including black holes that may dynamically assemble into merging binary black holes (BBHs). Uncertain GC properties, including when they formed, their initial masses and sizes, affect their production rate of BBH mergers. Using the gravitational-wave transient catalogue (GWTC-3), we measure that dynamically assembled BBHs – those that are consistent with isotropic spin directions – make up ${61^{+29}_{-44}\%}$ of the total merger rate, with a local merger rate of ${10.9^{+16.8}_{-9.3}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1 rising to ${58.9^{+149.4}_{-46.0}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1 at z  = 1. We assume that this inferred rate describes the contribution from GCs and compare it against the Cluster Monte Carlo (cmc) simulation catalogue to directly fit for the GC initial mass function, virial radius distribution, and formation history. We find that GC initial masses are consistent with a Schechter function with slope ${\beta _m = -1.9^{+0.8}_{-0.8}}$ . Assuming a mass function slope of βm  = −2 and a mass range between 104–$10^8\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot$ , we infer a GC formation rate at z  = 2 of ${5.0^{+9.4}_{-4.0}}$ Gpc−3 yr−1, or ${2.1^{+3.9}_{-1.7}}\times 10^6\, \mathrm{ M}_\odot$ Gpc−3 yr−1 in terms of mass density. We find that the GC formation rate probably rises more steeply than the global star formation rate between z  = 0 and z  = 3 (82 per cent credibility) and implies a local number density that is ${f_\mathrm{ev} = 22.6^{+29.9}_{-16.2}}$ times higher than the observed density of survived GCs. This is consistent with expectations for cluster evaporation, but may suggest that other environments contribute to the rate of BBH mergers with significantly tilted spins.

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  10. Abstract We study close encounters of a 1 M ⊙ middle-age main-sequence star (modeled using MESA) with massive black holes through hydrodynamic simulations, and explore in particular the dependence of the outcomes on the black hole mass. We consider here black holes in the intermediate-mass range, M BH = 100–10 4 M ⊙ . Possible outcomes vary from a small tidal perturbation for weak encounters all the way to partial or full disruption for stronger encounters. We find that stronger encounters lead to increased mass loss at the first pericenter passage, in many cases ejecting the partially disrupted star on an unbound orbit. For encounters that initially produce a bound system, with only partial stripping of the star, the fraction of mass stripped from the star increases with each subsequent pericenter passage and a stellar remnant of finite mass is ultimately ejected in all cases. The critical penetration depth that separates bound and unbound remnants has a dependence on the black hole mass when M BH ≲ 10 3 M ⊙ . We also find that the number of successive close passages before ejection decreases as we go from the stellar-mass black hole to the intermediate-mass black hole regime. For instance, after an initial encounter right at the classical tidal disruption limit, a 1 M ⊙ star undergoes 16 (5) pericenter passages before ejection from a 10 M ⊙ (100 M ⊙ ) black hole. Observations of periodic flares from these repeated close passages could in principle indicate signatures of a partial tidal disruption event. 
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