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Journal Article

Retrograde binaries of massive black holes in circum-binary accretion discs


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

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Amaro-Seoane, P., Maureira-Fredes, C., Dotti, M., & Colpi, M. (2016). Retrograde binaries of massive black holes in circum-binary accretion discs. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 591: A114. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201526172.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-3863-D
We explore the hardening of a massive black hole binary embedded in a circum-binary gas disc when the binary and the gas are coplanar and the gas is counter-rotating. The secondary black hole, revolving in the direction opposite to the gas, experiences a drag from gas-dynamical friction and from direct accretion of part of it. Using two-dimensional (2D) hydrodynamical grid simulations we investigate the effect of changing the accretion prescriptions on the dynamics of the secondary black hole which in turn affect the binary hardening and eccentricity evolution. We find that realistic accretion prescriptions lead to results that differ from those inferred assuming accretion of all the gas within the Roche Lobe of the secondary black hole. Different accretion prescriptions result in different disc's surface densities which alter the black hole's dynamics back. Full 3D SPH realizations of a number of representative cases, run over a shorter interval of time, validate the general trends observed in the less computationally demanding 2D simulations. Initially circular black hole binaries increase only slightly their eccentricity which then oscillates around small values (<0.1) while they harden. By contrast, initially eccentric binaries become more and more eccentric. A semi-analytical model describing the black hole's dynamics under accretion only explores the late evolution stages of the binary in an otherwise unperturbed retrograde disc to illustrate how eccentricity evolves with time in relation to the shape of the underlying surface density distribution.