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  1. Abstract

    The existence of black holes (BHs) with masses in the range between stellar remnants and supermassive BHs has only recently become unambiguously established. GW190521, a gravitational wave signal detected by the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration, provides the first direct evidence for the existence of such intermediate-mass BHs (IMBHs). This event sparked and continues to fuel discussion on the possible formation channels for such massive BHs. As the detection revealed, IMBHs can form via binary mergers of BHs in the “upper mass gap” (≈40–120M). Alternatively, IMBHs may form via the collapse of a very massive star formed through stellar collisions and mergers in dense star clusters. In this study, we explore the formation of IMBHs with masses between 120 and 500Min young, massive star clusters using state-of-the-art Cluster Monte Carlo models. We examine the evolution of IMBHs throughout their dynamical lifetimes, ending with their ejection from the parent cluster due to gravitational radiation recoil from BH mergers, or dynamical recoil kicks from few-body scattering encounters. We find thatallof the IMBHs in our models are ejected from the host cluster within the first ∼500 Myr, indicating a low retention probability of IMBHs in this mass range for globular clusters today. We estimate the peak IMBH merger rate to be2Gpc3yr1at redshiftz≈ 2.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    Formation of supermassive black holes (BHs) remains a theoretical challenge. In many models, especially beginning from stellar relic ‘seeds,’ this requires sustained super-Eddington accretion. While studies have shown BHs can violate the Eddington limit on accretion disc scales given sufficient ‘fuelling’ from larger scales, what remains unclear is whether or not BHs can actually capture sufficient gas from their surrounding interstellar medium (ISM). We explore this in a suite of multiphysics high-resolution simulations of BH growth in magnetized, star-forming dense gas complexes including dynamical stellar feedback from radiation, stellar mass-loss, and supernovae, exploring populations of seeds with masses $\sim 1\!-\!10^{4}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$. In this initial study, we neglect feedback from the BHs: so this sets a strong upper limit to the accretion rates seeds can sustain. We show that stellar feedback plays a key role. Complexes with gravitational pressure/surface density below $\sim 10^{3}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, {\rm pc^{-2}}$ are disrupted with low star formation efficiencies so provide poor environments for BH growth. But in denser cloud complexes, early stellar feedback does not rapidly destroy the clouds but does generate strong shocks and dense clumps, allowing $\sim 1{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of randomly initialized seeds to encounter a dense clump with low relative velocity and produce runaway, hyper-Eddington accretion (growing by orders of magnitude). Remarkably, mass growth under these conditions is almost independent of initial BH mass, allowing rapid intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) formation even for stellar-mass seeds. This defines a necessary (but perhaps not sufficient) set of criteria for runaway BH growth: we provide analytic estimates for the probability of runaway growth under different ISM conditions.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT

    We analyse Gaia EDR3 and re-calibrated HST proper motion data from the core-collapsed and non-core-collapsed globular clusters NGC 6397 and NGC 3201, respectively, with the Bayesian mass-orbit modelling code MAMPOSSt-PM. We use Bayesian evidence and realistic mock data sets constructed with Agama to select between different mass models. In both clusters, the velocities are consistent with isotropy within the extent of our data. We robustly detect a dark central mass (DCM) of roughly $1000\, \rm M_\odot$ in both clusters. Our MAMPOSSt-PM fits strongly prefer an extended DCM in NGC 6397, while only presenting a mild preference for it in NGC 3201, with respective sizes of a roughly one and a few per cent of the cluster effective radius. We explore the astrophysics behind our results with the CMC Monte Carlo N-body code, whose snapshots best matching the phase space observations lead to similar values for the mass and size of the DCM. The internal kinematics are thus consistent with a population of hundreds of massive white dwarfs in NGC 6397, and roughly 100 segregated stellar-mass black holes in NGC 3201, as previously found with CMC. Such analyses confirm the accuracy of both mass-orbit modelling and Monte Carlo N-body techniques, which together provide more robust predictions on the DCM of globular clusters (core-collapsed or not). This opens possibilities to understand a vast range of interesting astrophysical phenomena in clusters, such as fast radio bursts, compact object mergers, and gravitational waves.

     
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  4. 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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  5. Abstract

    Many recent observational and theoretical studies suggest that globular clusters (GCs) host compact object populations large enough to play dominant roles in their overall dynamical evolution. Yet direct detection, particularly of black holes and neutron stars, remains rare and limited to special cases, such as when these objects reside in close binaries with bright companions. Here we examine the potential of microlensing detections to further constrain these dark populations. Based on state-of-the-art GC models from theCMC Cluster Catalog, we estimate the microlensing event rates for black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs (WDs), and, for comparison, also for M dwarfs in Milky Way GCs, as well as the effects of different initial conditions on these rates. Among compact objects, we find that WDs dominate the microlensing rates, simply because they largely dominate by numbers. We show that microlensing detections are in general more likely in GCs with higher initial densities, especially in clusters that undergo core collapse. We also estimate microlensing rates in the specific cases of M22 and 47 Tuc using our best-fitting models for these GCs. Because their positions on the sky lie near the rich stellar backgrounds of the Galactic bulge and the Small Magellanic Cloud, respectively, these clusters are among the Galactic GCs best suited for dedicated microlensing surveys. The upcoming 10 yr survey with the Rubin Observatory may be ideal for detecting lensing events in GCs.

     
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  6. Abstract

    We describe the public release of the Cluster Monte Carlo (CMC) code, a parallel, star-by-starN-body code for modeling dense star clusters.CMCtreats collisional stellar dynamics using Hénon’s method, where the cumulative effect of many two-body encounters is statistically reproduced as a single effective encounter between nearest-neighbor particles on a relaxation timescale. The star-by-star approach allows for the inclusion of additional physics, including strong gravitational three- and four-body encounters, two-body tidal and gravitational-wave captures, mass loss in arbitrary galactic tidal fields, and stellar evolution for both single and binary stars. The public release ofCMCis pinned directly to theCOSMICpopulation synthesis code, allowing dynamical star cluster simulations and population synthesis studies to be performed using identical assumptions about the stellar physics and initial conditions. As a demonstration, we present two examples of star cluster modeling: first, we perform the largest (N= 108) star-by-starN-body simulation of a Plummer sphere evolving to core collapse, reproducing the expected self-similar density profile over more than 15 orders of magnitude; second, we generate realistic models for typical globular clusters, and we show that their dynamical evolution can produce significant numbers of black hole mergers with masses greater than those produced from isolated binary evolution (such as GW190521, a recently reported merger with component masses in the pulsational pair-instability mass gap).

     
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  7. Abstract Recent analyses have shown that close encounters between stars and stellar black holes occur frequently in dense star clusters. Depending upon the distance at closest approach, these interactions can lead to dissipating encounters such as tidal captures and disruptions, or direct physical collisions, all of which may be accompanied by bright electromagnetic transients. In this study, we perform a wide range of hydrodynamic simulations of close encounters between black holes and main-sequence stars that collectively cover the parameter space of interest, and we identify and classify the various possible outcomes. In the case of nearly head-on collisions, the star is completely disrupted with roughly half of the stellar material becoming bound to the black hole. For more distant encounters near the classical tidal-disruption radius, the star is only partially disrupted on the first pericenter passage. Depending upon the interaction details, the partially disrupted stellar remnant may be tidally captured by the black hole or become unbound (in some cases, receiving a sufficiently large impulsive kick from asymmetric mass loss to be ejected from its host cluster). In the former case, the star will undergo additional pericenter passages before ultimately being disrupted fully. Based on the properties of the material bound to the black hole at the end of our simulations (in particular, the total bound mass and angular momentum), we comment upon the expected accretion process and associated electromagnetic signatures that are likely to result. 
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  8. Abstract Close encounters between neutron stars and main-sequence stars occur in globular clusters and may lead to various outcomes. Here we study encounters resulting in the tidal disruption of the star. Using N -body models, we predict the typical stellar masses in these disruptions and the dependence of the event rate on the host cluster properties. We find that tidal disruption events occur most frequently in core-collapsed globular clusters and that roughly 25% of the disrupted stars are merger products (i.e., blue straggler stars). Using hydrodynamic simulations, we model the tidal disruptions themselves (over timescales of days) to determine the mass bound to the neutron star and the properties of the accretion disks formed. In general, we find roughly 80%–90% of the initial stellar mass becomes bound to the neutron star following disruption. Additionally, we find that neutron stars receive impulsive kicks of up to about 20 km s −1 as a result of the asymmetry of unbound ejecta; these kicks place these neutron stars on elongated orbits within their host cluster, with apocenter distances well outside the cluster core. Finally, we model the evolution of the (hypercritical) accretion disks on longer timescales (days to years after disruption) to estimate the accretion rate onto the neutron stars and accompanying spin-up. As long as ≳1% of the bound mass accretes onto the neutron star, millisecond spin periods can be attained. We argue the growing numbers of isolated millisecond pulsars observed in globular clusters may have formed, at least in part, through this mechanism. In the case of significant mass growth, some of these neutron stars may collapse to form low-mass (≲3 M ⊙ ) black holes. 
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  9. Abstract Ultralight bosons are a proposed solution to outstanding problems in cosmology and particle physics: they provide a dark-matter candidate while potentially explaining the strong charge-parity problem. If they exist, ultralight bosons can interact with black holes through the superradiant instability. In this work we explore the consequences of this instability on the evolution of hierarchical black holes within dense stellar clusters. By reducing the spin of individual black holes, superradiance reduces the recoil velocity of merging binary black holes, which, in turn, increases the retention fraction of hierarchical merger remnants. We show that the existence of ultralight bosons with mass 2 × 10 −14 ≲ μ /eV ≲ 2 × 10 −13 would lead to an increased rate of hierarchical black hole mergers in nuclear star clusters. An ultralight boson in this energy range would result in up to ≈60% more present-day nuclear star clusters supporting hierarchical growth. The presence of an ultralight boson can also double the rate of intermediate-mass black hole mergers to ≈0.08 Gpc −3 yr −1 in the local universe. These results imply that a select range of ultralight boson masses can have far-reaching consequences for the population of black holes in dense stellar environments. Future studies into black hole cluster populations and the spin distribution of hierarchically formed black holes will test this scenario. 
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  10. Abstract Supersonically induced gas objects (SIGOs), are structures with little to no dark-matter component predicted to exist in regions of the universe with large relative velocities between baryons and dark matter at the time of recombination. They have been suggested to be the progenitors of present-day globular clusters. Using simulations, SIGOs have been studied on small scales (around 2 Mpc) where these relative velocities are coherent. However, it is challenging to study SIGOs using simulations on large scales due to the varying relative velocities at scales larger than a few Mpc. Here, we study SIGO abundances semi-analytically: using perturbation theory, we predict the number density of SIGOs analytically, and compare these results to small-box numerical simulations. We use the agreement between the numerical and analytic calculations to extrapolate the large-scale variation of SIGO abundances over different stream velocities. As a result, we predict similar large-scale variations of objects with high gas densities before reionization that could possibly be observed by JWST. If indeed SIGOs are progenitors of globular clusters, then we expect a similar variation of globular cluster abundances over large scales. Significantly, we find that the expected number density of SIGOs is consistent with observed globular cluster number densities. As a proof-of-concept, and because globular clusters were proposed to be natural formation sites for gravitational wave sources from binary black-hole mergers, we show that SIGOs should imprint an anisotropy on the gravitational wave signal on the sky, consistent with their distribution. 
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