LIGO-Virgo correlations between mass ratio and effective inspiral spin: Testing the active galactic nuclei channel

B. McKernan, K. E.S. Ford, T. Callister, W. M. Farr, R. O'Shaughnessy, R. Smith, E. Thrane, A. Vajpeyi

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24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Observations by LIGO-Virgo of binary black hole mergers suggest a possible anticorrelation between black hole mass ratio (q = m2/m1) and the effective inspiral spin parameter χeff, the mass-weighted spin projection on to the binary orbital angular momentum. We show that such an anticorrelation can arise for binary black holes assembled in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) due to spherical and planar symmetry-breaking effects. We describe a phenomenological model in which (1) heavier black holes live in the AGN disc and tend to spin-up into alignment with the disc; (2) lighter black holes with random spin orientations live in the nuclear spheroid; (3) the AGN disc is dense enough to rapidly capture a fraction of the spheroid component, but small in radial extent to limit the number of bulk disc mergers; (4) migration within the disc is non-uniform, likely disrupted by feedback from migrators or disc turbulence; (5) dynamical encounters in the disc are common and preferentially disrupt binaries that are retrograde around their centre of mass, particularly at stalling orbits, or traps. Comparisons of predictions in (q, χeff) parameter space for the different channels may allow us to distinguish their fractional contributions to the observed merger rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3886-3893
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume514
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • accretion, accretion discs
  • black hole physics
  • galaxies: Active
  • gravitational waves

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