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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Abstract We present fully relativistic predictions for the electromagnetic emission produced by accretion disks surrounding spinning and nonspinning supermassive binary black holes on the verge of merging. We use the code Bothros to post-process data from 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations via ray-tracing calculations. These simulations model the dynamics of a circumbinary disk and the mini-disks that form around two equal-mass black holes orbiting each other at an initial separation of 20 gravitational radii, and evolve the system for more than 10 orbits in the inspiral regime. We model the emission as the sum of thermal blackbody radiation emitted bymore »an optically thick accretion disk and a power-law spectrum extending to hard X-rays emitted by a hot optically thin corona. We generate time-dependent spectra, images, and light curves at various frequencies to investigate intrinsic periodic signals in the emission, as well as the effects of the black hole spin. We find that prograde black hole spin makes mini-disks brighter since the smaller innermost stable circular orbit angular momentum demands more dissipation before matter plunges to the horizon. However, compared to mini-disks in larger separation binaries with spinning black holes, our mini-disks are less luminous: unlike those systems, their mass accretion rate is lower than in the circumbinary disk, and they radiate with lower efficiency because their inflow times are shorter. Compared to a single black hole system matched in mass and accretion rate, these binaries have spectra noticeably weaker and softer in the UV. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for the potential observability of these systems.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Abstract We perform a full 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamical (GRMHD) simulation of an equal-mass, spinning, binary black hole approaching merger, surrounded by a circumbinary disk and with a minidisk around each black hole. For this purpose, we evolve the ideal GRMHD equations on top of an approximated spacetime for the binary that is valid in every position of space, including the black hole horizons, during the inspiral regime. We use relaxed initial data for the circumbinary disk from a previous long-term simulation, where the accretion is dominated by a m = 1 overdensity called the lump. We compare our newmore »spinning simulation with a previous non-spinning run, studying how spin influences the minidisk properties. We analyze the accretion from the inner edge of the lump to the black hole, focusing on the angular momentum budget of the fluid around the minidisks. We find that minidisks in the spinning case have more mass over a cycle than the non-spinning case. However, in both cases we find that most of the mass received by the black holes is delivered by the direct plunging of material from the lump. We also analyze the morphology and variability of the electromagnetic fluxes, and we find they share the same periodicities of the accretion rate. In the spinning case, we find that the outflows are stronger than the non-spinning case. Our results will be useful to understand and produce realistic synthetic light curves and spectra, which can be used in future observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  6. Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) span the approximate mass range 100−10 5   M ⊙ , between black holes (BHs) that formed by stellar collapse and the supermassive BHs at the centers of galaxies. Mergers of IMBH binaries are the most energetic gravitational-wave sources accessible by the terrestrial detector network. Searches of the first two observing runs of Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo did not yield any significant IMBH binary signals. In the third observing run (O3), the increased network sensitivity enabled the detection of GW190521, a signal consistent with a binary merger of mass ∼150  M ⊙ providing direct evidencemore »of IMBH formation. Here, we report on a dedicated search of O3 data for further IMBH binary mergers, combining both modeled (matched filter) and model-independent search methods. We find some marginal candidates, but none are sufficiently significant to indicate detection of further IMBH mergers. We quantify the sensitivity of the individual search methods and of the combined search using a suite of IMBH binary signals obtained via numerical relativity, including the effects of spins misaligned with the binary orbital axis, and present the resulting upper limits on astrophysical merger rates. Our most stringent limit is for equal mass and aligned spin BH binary of total mass 200  M ⊙ and effective aligned spin 0.8 at 0.056 Gpc −3 yr −1 (90% confidence), a factor of 3.5 more constraining than previous LIGO-Virgo limits. We also update the estimated rate of mergers similar to GW190521 to 0.08 Gpc −3 yr −1 .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  9. Abstract Accreting supermassive binary black holes (SMBBHs) are potential multimessenger sources because they emit both gravitational-wave and electromagnetic (EM) radiation. Past work has shown that their EM output may be periodically modulated by an asymmetric density distribution in the circumbinary disk, often called an “overdensity” or “lump;” this modulation could possibly be used to identify a source as a binary. We explore the sensitivity of the overdensity to SMBBH mass ratio and magnetic flux through the accretion disk. We find that the relative amplitude of the overdensity and its associated EM periodic signal both degrade with diminishing mass ratio, vanishingmore »altogether somewhere between 1:2 and 1:5. Greater magnetization also weakens the lump and any modulation of the light output. We develop a model to describe how lump formation results from internal stress degrading faster in the lump region than it can be rejuvenated through accretion inflow, and predicts a threshold value in specific internal stress below which lump formation should occur and which all our lump-forming simulations satisfy. Thus, detection of such a modulation would provide a constraint on both mass ratio and magnetic flux piercing the accretion flow.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 29, 2022
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022