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  1. Abstract

    The recent discovery of two detached black hole–star (BH–star) binaries from Gaia’s third data release has sparked interest in understanding the formation mechanisms of these systems. We investigate the formation of these systems by dynamical processes in young star clusters (SCs) and via isolated binary (IB) evolution, using a combination of directN-body and population synthesis simulations. We find that dynamical formation in SCs is nearly 50 times more efficient per unit of star formation at producing BH–star binaries than IB evolution. We expand this analysis to the full Milky Way (MW) using a FIRE-2 hydrodynamical simulation of an MW-mass galaxy. Even assuming that only 10% of star formation goes into SCs, we find that approximately four out of every five BH–star systems are formed dynamically, and that the MW contains a total of ∼2 × 105BH–star systems. Many of these dynamically formed systems have longer orbital periods, greater eccentricities, and greater black hole masses than their isolated counterparts. For binaries older than 100 Myr, we show that any detectable system withe≳ 0.5 orMBH≳ 10Mcanonlybe formed through dynamical processes. Our MW model predicts between 64 and 215 such detections from the complete DR4 Gaia catalog, with the majority of systems being dynamically formed in massive and metal-rich SCs. Finally, we compare our populations to the recently discovered Gaia BH1 and Gaia BH2, and conclude that the dynamical scenario is the most favorable formation pathway for both systems.

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  2. Abstract

    The dense environments in the cores of globular clusters (GCs) facilitate many strong dynamical encounters among stellar objects. These encounters have been shown to be capable of ejecting stars from the host GC, whereupon they become runaway stars, or hypervelocity stars (HVSs) if unbound to the galactic potential. We study high-speed stellar ejecta originating from GCs by using Monte CarloN-body models, in particular focusing on binary–single encounters involving compact objects. We pair our model-discriminated populations with observational catalogs of Milky Way GCs (MWGCs) to compose a present-day Galactic population of stellar ejecta. We find that these kinds of encounters can accelerate stars to velocities in excess of 2000 km s−1, to speeds beyond the previously predicted limits for ejecta from star-only encounters and in the same regime of Galactic center ejections. However, the same ejections can only account for 1.5%–20% of the total population of stellar runaways, and only 0.0001%–1% of HVS, with similar relative rates found for runaway white dwarfs. We also provide credible regions for ejecta from 149 MWGCs, which we hope will be useful as supplementary evidence when pairing runaway stars with origin GCs.

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    Massive binaries are vital sources of various transient processes, including gravitational-wave mergers. However, large uncertainties in the evolution of massive stars, both physical and numerical, present a major challenge to the understanding of their binary evolution. In this paper, we upgrade our interpolation-based stellar evolution code metisse to include the effects of mass changes, such as binary mass transfer or wind-driven mass loss, not already included within the input stellar tracks. metisse’s implementation of mass loss (applied to tracks without mass loss) shows excellent agreement with the sse fitting formulae and with detailed mesa tracks, except in cases where the mass transfer is too rapid for the star to maintain equilibrium. We use this updated version of metisse within the binary population synthesis code bse to demonstrate the impact of varying stellar evolution parameters, particularly core overshooting, on the evolution of a massive (25 and 15 M⊙) binary system with an orbital period of 1800 d. Depending on the input tracks, we find that the binary system can form a binary black hole or a black hole–neutron star system, with primary (secondary) remnant masses ranging between 4.47 (1.36) and 12.30 (10.89) M⊙, and orbital periods ranging from 6 d to the binary becoming unbound. Extending this analysis to a population of isolated binaries uniformly distributed in mass and orbital period, we show that the input stellar models play an important role in determining which regions of the binary parameter space can produce compact binary mergers, paving the way for predictions for current and future gravitational-wave observatories.

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  4. Abstract

    Over the course of several years, stars trace helical trajectories as they traverse across the sky due to the combined effects of proper motion and parallax. It is well known that the gravitational pull of an unseen companion can cause deviations to these tracks. Several studies have pointed out that the astrometric mission Gaia will be able to identify a slew of new exoplanets, stellar binaries, and compact object companions with orbital periods as short as tens of days to as long as Gaia's lifetime. Here, we use mock astrometric observations to demonstrate that Gaia can identify and characterize black hole companions to luminous stars with orbital periods longer than Gaia's lifetime. Such astrometric binaries have orbital periods too long to exhibit complete orbits, and instead are identified through curvature in their characteristic helical paths. By simultaneously measuring the radius of this curvature and the orbital velocity, constraints can be placed on the underlying orbit. We quantify the precision with which Gaia can measure orbital accelerations and apply that to model predictions for the population of black holes orbiting stars in the stellar neighborhood. Although orbital degeneracies imply that many of the accelerations induced by hidden black holes could also be explained by faint low-mass stars, we discuss how the nature of certain putative black hole companions can be confirmed with high confidence using Gaia data alone.

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    Massive Black Hole (MBH) binaries are considered to be one of the most important sources of Gravitational Waves (GW) that can be detected by GW detectors like LISA. However, there are a lot of uncertainties in the dynamics of MBH binaries in the stages leading up to the GW-emission phase. It has been recently suggested that Nuclear Star Clusters (NSCs) could provide a viable route to overcome the final parsec problem for MBH binaries at the centre of galaxies. NSCs are collisional systems where the dynamics would be altered by the presence of a mass spectrum. In this study, we use a suite of high-resolution N-body simulations with over 1 million particles to understand how collisional relaxation under the presence of a mass spectrum of NSC particles affects the dynamics of the MBH binary under the merger of two NSCs. We consider MBH binaries with different mass ratios and additional non-relaxed models. We find that mass-segregation driven by collisional relaxation can lead to accelerated hardening in lower mass ratio binaries but has the opposite effect in higher mass ratio binaries. Crucially, the relaxed models also demonstrate much lower eccentricities at binary formation and negligible growth during hardening stages leading to longer merger time-scales. The results are robust and highlight the importance of collisional relaxation on changing the dynamics of the binary. Our models are state-of-the-art, use zero softening, and high enough particle numbers to model NSCs realistically.

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    The current generation of galaxy simulations can resolve individual giant molecular clouds, the progenitors of dense star clusters. But the evolutionary fate of these young massive clusters, and whether they can become the old globular clusters (GCs) observed in many galaxies, is determined by a complex interplay of internal dynamical processes and external galactic effects. We present the first star-by-star N-body models of massive (N ∼ 105–107) star clusters formed in a FIRE-2 MHD simulation of a Milky Way-mass galaxy, with the relevant initial conditions and tidal forces extracted from the cosmological simulation. We select 895 (∼30 per cent) of the YMCs with >6 × 104 M⊙ from Grudić et al. 2022 and integrate them to z = 0 using the cluster Monte Carlo code, CMC. This procedure predicts a MW-like system with 148 GCs, predominantly formed during the early, bursty mode of star formation. Our GCs are younger, less massive, and more core-collapsed than clusters in the Milky Way or M31. This results from the assembly history and age-metallicity relationship of the host galaxy: Younger clusters are preferentially born in stronger tidal fields and initially retain fewer stellar-mass black holes, causing them to lose mass faster and reach core collapse sooner than older GCs. Our results suggest that the masses and core/half-light radii of GCs are shaped not only by internal dynamical processes, but also by the specific evolutionary history of their host galaxies. These results emphasize that N-body studies with realistic stellar physics are crucial to understanding the evolution and present-day properties of GC systems.

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  7. Abstract

    Observations have shown that the majority of massive stars, the progenitors of black holes (BHs), have on average more than one stellar companion. In triple systems, wide inner binaries can be driven to a merger by a third body due to long-term secular interactions, most notably by the eccentric Lidov–Kozai effect. In this study, we explore the properties of BH mergers in triple systems and compare their population properties to those of binaries produced in isolation and assembled in dense star clusters. Using the same stellar physics and identical assumptions for the initial populations of binaries and triples, we show that stellar triples yield a significantly flatter mass ratio distribution fromq= 1 down toq∼ 0.3 than either binary stars or dense stellar clusters, similar to the population properties inferred from the most recent catalog of gravitational-wave events, though we do not claim that all the observed events can be accounted for with triples. While hierarchical mergers in clusters can also produce asymmetric mass ratios, the unique spins of such mergers can be used to distinguish them from those produced from stellar triples. All three channels occupy distinct regions in the total mass–mass ratio space, which may allow them to be disentangled as more BH mergers are detected by LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA.

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    The properties of young star clusters formed within a galaxy are thought to vary in different interstellar medium conditions, but the details of this mapping from galactic to cluster scales are poorly understood due to the large dynamic range involved in galaxy and star cluster formation. We introduce a new method for modelling cluster formation in galaxy simulations: mapping giant molecular clouds (GMCs) formed self-consistently in a FIRE-2 magnetohydrodynamic galaxy simulation on to a cluster population according to a GMC-scale cluster formation model calibrated to higher resolution simulations, obtaining detailed properties of the galaxy’s star clusters in mass, metallicity, space, and time. We find $\sim 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of all stars formed in the galaxy originate in gravitationally bound clusters overall, and this fraction increases in regions with elevated Σgas and ΣSFR, because such regions host denser GMCs with higher star formation efficiency. These quantities vary systematically over the history of the galaxy, driving variations in cluster formation. The mass function of bound clusters varies – no single Schechter-like or power-law distribution applies at all times. In the most extreme episodes, clusters as massive as 7 × 106 M⊙ form in massive, dense clouds with high star formation efficiency. The initial mass–radius relation of young star clusters is consistent with an environmentally dependent 3D density that increases with Σgas and ΣSFR. The model does not reproduce the age and metallicity statistics of old ($\gt 11\rm Gyr$) globular clusters found in the Milky Way, possibly because it forms stars more slowly at z > 3.

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  9. Abstract

    The globular cluster 47 Tucanae (47 Tuc) is one of the most massive star clusters in the Milky Way and is exceptionally rich in exotic stellar populations. For several decades it has been a favorite target of observers, and yet it is computationally very challenging to model because of its large number of stars (N≳ 106) and high density. Here we present detailed and self-consistent 47 Tuc models computed with theCluster Monte Carlocode (CMC). The models include all relevant dynamical interactions coupled to stellar and binary evolution, and reproduce various observations, including the surface brightness and velocity dispersion profiles, pulsar accelerations, and numbers of compact objects. We show that the present properties of 47 Tuc are best reproduced by adopting an initial stellar mass function that is both bottom-heavy and top-light relative to standard assumptions (as in, e.g., Kroupa 2001), and an initial Elson profile (Elson et al. 1987) that is overfilling the cluster’s tidal radius. We include new prescriptions inCMCfor the formation of binaries through giant star collisions and tidal captures, and we show that these mechanisms play a crucial role in the formation of neutron star binaries and millisecond pulsars in 47 Tuc; our best-fit model contains ∼50 millisecond pulsars, 70% of which are formed through giant collisions and tidal captures. Our models also suggest that 47 Tuc presently contains up to ∼200 stellar-mass black holes, ∼5 binary black holes, ∼15 low-mass X-ray binaries, and ∼300 cataclysmic variables.

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  10. null (Ed.)