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Journal Article

Limiting eccentricity of subparsec massive black hole binaries surrounded by self-gravitating gas discs


Roedig,  Constanze
Astrophysical Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;


Sesana,  Alberto
High Energy Astrophysics, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Roedig, C., Dotti, M., Sesana, A., Cuadra, J., & Colpi, M. (2011). Limiting eccentricity of subparsec massive black hole binaries surrounded by self-gravitating gas discs. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 415, 3033-3041. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18927.x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-0AE9-9
We study the dynamics of supermassive black hole binaries embedded in circumbinary gaseous discs, with the SPH code Gadget-2. The sub-parsec binary (of total mass M and mass ratio q=1/3) has excavated a gap and transfers its angular momentum to the self--gravitating disc (M_disc=0.2 M). We explore the changes of the binary eccentricity e, by simulating a sequence of binary models that differ in the initial eccentricity e_0, only. In initially low-eccentric binaries, the eccentricity increases with time, while in high-eccentric binaries e declines, indicating the existence of a limiting eccentricity e_crit that is found to fall in the interval [0.6,0.8]. We also present an analytical interpretation for this saturation limit. An important consequence of the existence of e_crit is the detectability of a significant residual eccentricity e_LISA} by the proposed gravitational wave detector LISA. It is found that at the moment of entering the LISA frequency domain e_LISA ~ 10^{-3}-10^{-2}; a signature of its earlier coupling with the massive circumbinary disc. We also observe large periodic inflows across the gap, occurring on the binary and disc dynamical time scales rather than on the viscous time. These periodic changes in the accretion rate (with amplitudes up to ~100%, depending on the binary eccentricity) can be considered a fingerprint of eccentric sub-parsec binaries migrating inside a circumbinary disc.