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  1. Galactic nuclei harbouring a central supermassive black hole (SMBH), possibly surrounded by a dense nuclear cluster (NC), represent extreme environments that house a complex interplay of many physical processes that uniquely affect stellar formation, evolution, and dynamics. The discovery of gravitational waves (GWs) emitted by merging black holes (BHs) and neutron stars (NSs), funnelled a huge amount of work focused on understanding how compact object binaries (COBs) can pair up and merge together. Here, we review from a theoretical standpoint how different mechanisms concur with the formation, evolution, and merger of COBs around quiescent SMBHs and active galactic nuclei (AGNs), summarising the main predictions for current and future (GW) detections and outlining the possible features that can clearly mark a galactic nuclei origin. 
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  2. Abstract Repeated mergers of stellar-mass black holes in dense star clusters can produce intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). In particular, nuclear star clusters at the centers of galaxies have deep enough potential wells to retain most of the black hole (BH) merger products, in spite of the significant recoil kicks due to anisotropic emission of gravitational radiation. These events can be detected in gravitational waves, which represent an unprecedented opportunity to reveal IMBHs. In this paper, we analyze the statistical results of a wide range of numerical simulations, which encompass different cluster metallicities, initial BH seed masses, and initial BH spins, and we compute the merger rate of IMBH binaries. We find that merger rates are in the range 0.01–10 Gpc −3 yr −1 depending on IMBH masses. We also compute the number of multiband detections in ground-based and space-based observatories. Our model predicts that a few merger events per year should be detectable with LISA, DECIGO, Einstein Telescope (ET), and LIGO for IMBHs with masses ≲1000 M ⊙ , and a few tens of merger events per year with DECIGO, ET, and LIGO only. 
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  3. Abstract Current theoretical models predict a mass gap with a dearth of stellar black holes (BHs) between roughly 50 M ⊙ and 100 M ⊙ , while above the range accessible through massive star evolution, intermediate-mass BHs (IMBHs) still remain elusive. Repeated mergers of binary BHs, detectable via gravitational-wave emission with the current LIGO/Virgo/Kagra interferometers and future detectors such as LISA or the Einstein Telescope, can form both mass-gap BHs and IMBHs. Here we explore the possibility that mass-gap BHs and IMBHs are born as a result of successive BH mergers in dense star clusters. In particular, nuclear star clusters at the centers of galaxies have deep enough potential wells to retain most of the BH merger products after they receive significant recoil kicks due to anisotropic emission of gravitational radiation. Using for the first time simulations that include full stellar evolution, we show that a massive stellar BH seed can easily grow to ∼10 3 –10 4 M ⊙ as a result of repeated mergers with other smaller BHs. We find that lowering the cluster metallicity leads to larger final BH masses. We also show that the growing BH spin tends to decrease in magnitude with the number of mergers so that a negative correlation exists between the final mass and spin of the resulting IMBHs. Assumptions about the birth spins of stellar BHs affect our results significantly, with low birth spins leading to the production of a larger population of massive BHs. 
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  4. ABSTRACT Recent gravitational wave (GW) observations by LIGO/Virgo show evidence for hierarchical mergers, where the merging BHs are the remnants of previous BH merger events. These events may carry important clues about the astrophysical host environments of the GW sources. In this paper, we present the distributions of the effective spin parameter (χeff), the precession spin parameter (χp), and the chirp mass (mchirp) expected in hierarchical mergers. Under a wide range of assumptions, hierarchical mergers produce (i) a monotonic increase of the average of the typical total spin for merging binaries, which we characterize with $\scriptstyle{{\bar{\chi }}_\mathrm{typ}\equiv \overline{(\chi _\mathrm{eff}^2+\chi _\mathrm{p}^2)^{1/2}}}$, up to roughly the maximum mchirp among first-generation (1g) BHs, and (ii) a plateau at ${\bar{\chi }}_\mathrm{typ}\sim 0.6$ at higher mchirp. We suggest that the maximum mass and typical spin magnitudes for 1g BHs can be estimated from ${\bar{\chi }}_\mathrm{typ}$ as a function of mchirp. The GW data observed in LIGO/Virgo O1–O3a prefers an increase in ${\bar{\chi }}_\mathrm{typ}$ at low mchirp, which is consistent with the growth of the BH spin magnitude by hierarchical mergers at ∼2σ confidence. A Bayesian analysis using the χeff, χp, and mchirp distributions suggests that 1g BHs have the maximum mass of ∼15–$30\, {\rm M}_\odot$ if the majority of mergers are of high-generation BHs (not among 1g–1g BHs), which is consistent with mergers in active galactic nucleus discs and/or nuclear star clusters, while if mergers mainly originate from globular clusters, 1g BHs are favoured to have non-zero spin magnitudes of ∼0.3. We also forecast that signatures for hierarchical mergers in the ${\bar{\chi }}_\mathrm{typ}$ distribution can be confidently recovered once the number of GW events increases to ≳ O(100). 
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  9. ABSTRACT Mergers of binaries comprising compact objects can give rise to explosive transient events, heralding the birth of exotic objects that cannot be formed through single-star evolution. Using a large number of direct N-body simulations, we explore the possibility that a white dwarf (WD) is dynamically driven to tidal disruption by a stellar-mass black hole (BH) as a consequence of the joint effects of gravitational wave (GW) emission and Lidov–Kozai oscillations imposed by the tidal field of an outer tertiary companion orbiting the inner BH–WD binary. We explore the sensitivity of our results to the distributions of natal kick velocities imparted to the BH and WD upon formation, adiabatic mass loss, semimajor axes and eccentricities of the triples, and stellar-mass ratios. We find rates of WD–tidal disruption events (TDEs) in the range 1.2 × 10−3 − 1.4 Gpc−3 yr−1 for z ≤ 0.1, rarer than stellar TDEs in triples by a factor of ∼3–30. The uncertainty in the TDE rates may be greatly reduced in the future using GW observations of Galactic binaries and triples with LISA. WD–TDEs may give rise to high-energy X-ray or gamma-ray transients of duration similar to long gamma-ray bursts but lacking the signatures of a core-collapse supernova, while being accompanied by a supernova-like optical transient that lasts for only days. WD–BH and WD–NS binaries will also emit GWs in the LISA band before the TDE. The discovery and identification of triple-induced WD–TDE events by future time domain surveys and/or GWs could enable the study of the demographics of BHs in nearby galaxies. 
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