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  1. Abstract

    Most stellar evolution models predict that black holes (BHs) should not exist above approximately 50–70M, the lower limit of the pair-instability mass gap. However, recent LIGO/Virgo detections indicate the existence of BHs with masses at and above this threshold. We suggest that massive BHs, including intermediate-mass BHs (IMBHs), can form in galactic nuclei through collisions between stellar-mass BHs and the surrounding main-sequence stars. Considering dynamical processes such as collisions, mass segregation, and relaxation, we find that this channel can be quite efficient, forming IMBHs as massive as 104M. This upper limit assumes that (1) the BHs accrete a substantial fraction of the stellar mass captured during each collision and (2) that the rate at which new stars are introduced into the region near the SMBH is high enough to offset depletion by stellar disruptions and star–star collisions. We discuss deviations from these key assumptions in the text. Our results suggest that BHs in the pair-instability mass gap and IMBHs may be ubiquitous in galactic centers. This formation channel has implications for observations. Collisions between stars and BHs can produce electromagnetic signatures, for example, from X-ray binaries and tidal disruption events. Additionally, formed through this channel, both BHs in themore »mass gap and IMBHs can merge with the SMBHs at the center of a galactic nucleus through gravitational waves. These gravitational-wave events are extreme- and intermediate-mass ratio inspirals.

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  2. Abstract Highly eccentric orbits are one of the major surprises of exoplanets relative to the solar system and indicate rich and tumultuous dynamical histories. One system of particular interest is Kepler-1656, which hosts a sub-Jovian planet with an eccentricity of 0.8. Sufficiently eccentric orbits will shrink in the semimajor axis due to tidal dissipation of orbital energy during periastron passage. Here our goal was to assess whether Kepler-1656b is currently undergoing such high-eccentricity migration, and to further understand the system’s origins and architecture. We confirm a second planet in the system with M c = 0.40 ± 0.09 M jup and P c = 1919 ± 27 days. We simulated the dynamical evolution of planet b in the presence of planet c and find a variety of possible outcomes for the system, such as tidal migration and engulfment. The system is consistent with an in situ dynamical origin of planet b followed by subsequent eccentric Kozai–Lidov perturbations that excite Kepler-1656b’s eccentricity gently, i.e., without initiating tidal migration. Thus, despite its high eccentricity, we find no evidence that planet b is or has migrated through the high-eccentricity channel. Finally, we predict the outer orbit to be mutually inclined in a nearlymore »perpendicular configuration with respect to the inner planet orbit based on the outcomes of our simulations and make observable predictions for the inner planet’s spin–orbit angle. Our methodology can be applied to other eccentric or tidally locked planets to constrain their origins, orbital configurations, and properties of a potential companion.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 22, 2023
  3. Abstract Multiplanetary systems are prevalent in our Galaxy. The long-term stability of such systems may be disrupted if a distant inclined companion excites the eccentricity and inclination of the inner planets via the eccentric Kozai–Lidov mechanism. However, the star–planet and the planet–planet interactions can help stabilize the system. In this work, we extend the previous stability criterion that only considered the companion–planet and planet–planet interactions by also accounting for short-range forces or effects, specifically, relativistic precession induced by the host star. A general analytical stability criterion is developed for planetary systems with N inner planets and a relatively distant inclined perturber by comparing precession rates of relevant dynamical effects. Furthermore, we demonstrate as examples that in systems with two and three inner planets, the analytical criterion is consistent with numerical simulations using a combination of Gauss’s averaging method and direct N -body integration. Finally, the criterion is applied to observed systems, constraining the orbital parameter space of a possible undiscovered companion. This new stability criterion extends the parameter space in which an inclined companion of multiplanet systems can inhabit.
  4. Abstract The recent discoveries of WD J091405.30+191412.25 (WD J0914 hereafter), a white dwarf (WD) likely accreting material from an ice-giant planet, and WD 1856+534 b (WD 1856 b hereafter), a Jupiter-sized planet transiting a WD, are the first direct evidence of giant planets orbiting WDs. However, for both systems, the observations indicate that the planets’ current orbital distances would have put them inside the stellar envelope during the red-giant phase, implying that the planets must have migrated to their current orbits after their host stars became WDs. Furthermore, WD J0914 is a very hot WD with a short cooling time that indicates a fast migration mechanism. Here, we demonstrate that the Eccentric Kozai–Lidov Mechanism, combined with stellar evolution and tidal effects, can naturally produce the observed orbital configurations, assuming that the WDs have distant stellar companions. Indeed, WD 1856 is part of a stellar triple system, being a distant companion to a stellar binary. We provide constraints for the orbital and physical characteristics for the potential stellar companion of WD J0914 and determine the initial orbital parameters of the WD 1856 system.
  5. ABSTRACT We study the stationary points of the hierarchical three body problem in the planetary limit (m1, m2 ≪ m0) at both the quadrupole and octupole orders. We demonstrate that the extension to octupole order preserves the principal stationary points of the quadrupole solution in the limit of small outer eccentricity e2 but that new families of stable fixed points occur in both prograde and retrograde cases. The most important new equilibria are those that branch off from the quadrupolar solutions and extend to large e2. The apsidal alignment of these families is a function of mass and inner planet eccentricity, and is determined by the relative directions of precession of ω1 and ω2 at the quadrupole level. These new equilibria are also the most resilient to the destabilizing effects of relativistic precession. We find additional equilibria that enable libration of the inner planet argument of pericentre in the limit of radial orbits and recover the non-linear analogue of the Laplace–Lagrange solutions in the coplanar limit. Finally, we show that the chaotic diffusion and orbital flips identified with the eccentric Kozai–Lidov mechanism and its variants can be understood in terms of the stationary points discussed here.