On stellar-mass black hole mergers in AGN disks detectable with LIGO [HEAP]


The first direct detection of gravitational waves resulted from the merger of two stellar mass black holes (sBH) that were ‘overweight’ compared to sBH observed in our own Galaxy. The upper end of the inferred sBH-sBH merger rate from LIGO observations presents a challenge for existing models. Several groups have now argued that ‘overweight’ sBH naturally occur in AGN disks and are likely to merge. Here we parameterize sources of sBH in AGN disks and uncertainties in their estimated merger rate. We find the plausible sBH-sBH merger rate in AGN disks detectable with LIGO spans $\sim 0.1-200$ $\rm{Gpc}^{-3} \rm{yr}^{-1}$. Our rate estimate is dominated by the accelerated, gas-driven merger in the AGN disk of pre-existing sBH from a nuclear star cluster whose orbits are ground down into the AGN disk. We predict a wide range of mass ratios for such binary mergers, spanning $\sim [10^{-2},1]$. We suggest a mechanism for producing sBH mergers consistent with present LIGO constraints on precursor spin. If our model is efficient, it also predicts a large population of IMBH in disks around SMBH in the nearby Universe. LISA will be able to severely constrain the rate from this channel through observations of IMBH-SMBH binaries.

Read this paper on arXiv…

B. McKernan, K. Ford, J. Bellovary, et. al.
Tue, 28 Feb 17

Comments: 11pages,3 figures, submitted to MNRAS. Comments welcome