Eccentric Black Hole Mergers in Globular Clusters

This simulation shows a binary-binary encounter involving four black holes, which can occur at the cores of dense stellar systems such as gloublar clusters. Such encounters can lead to long-lived “resonating” interactions, through which many temporary binary systems are created. By incorporating a more accurate description of Einstein’s gravity in the equations of motion, the formation of a temporary, highly eccentric binary during the chaotic encounter can lead to a rapid inspiral and merge due to gravitational wave emission zapping orbital energy. These mergers can maintain their high eccentricies into the LIGO sensitive frequency range and occur at a rate accessible by Advanced LIGO/Virgo. If detected, such systems will highly constrain their formation scenario and be a clear indicator that dynamics can play a key role in facilitating binary black hole mergers.

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Credit: Mike Zevin / Northwestern

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