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Journal Article

Intermediate-mass black holes in colliding clusters: Implications for lower-frequency gravitational-wave astronomy


Amaro-Seoane,  Pau
Astrophysical Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Amaro-Seoane, P., & Freitag, M. (2006). Intermediate-mass black holes in colliding clusters: Implications for lower-frequency gravitational-wave astronomy. Astrophysical Journal, 653(1), L53-L56. Retrieved from http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/ApJ/issues.html.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-4A45-1
Observations suggest that star clusters often form in binaries or larger bound groups. Therefore, mergers between two clusters are likely to occur. If these clusters both harbor an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH; 10^{2-4} Msun) in their center, they can become a strong source of gravitational waves when the black holes merge with each other. In order to understand the dynamical processes that operate in such a scenario, one has to study the evolution of the merger of two such young massive star clusters, and more specifically, their respective IMBHs. We employ the direct-summation Nbody4 numerical tool on special-purpose GRAPE6 hardware to simulate a merger of two stellar clusters each containing 63,000 particles and a central IMBH. This allows us to study accurately the orbital evolution of the colliding clusters and the embedded massive black holes. Within ~7 Myr the clusters have merged and the IMBHs constitute a hard binary. The final coalescence happens in ~10^8 yrs. The implication of our analysis is that intermediate-mass black holes merging as the result of coalescence of young dense clusters could provide a source for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) space-based gravitational wave detector mission. We find that interactions with stars increase the eccentricity of the IMBH binary to about 0.8. Although the binary later circularizes by emission of gravitational waves, the residual eccentricity can be detectable through its influence on the phase of the waves if the last few years of inspiral are observed.