Secular evolution of compact binaries near massive black holes: gravitational wave sources and other exotica
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AbstractThe environment near super massive black holes (SMBHs) in galactic nuclei contain a large number of stars and compact objects. A fraction of these are likely to be members of binaries. Here we discuss the binary population of stellar black holes and neutron stars near SMBHs and focus on the secular evolution of such binaries, due to the perturbation by the SMBH. Binaries with highly inclined orbits in respect to their orbit around the SMBH are strongly affected by secular Kozai processes, which periodically change their eccentricities and inclinations (Kozai-cycles). During periapsis approach, at the highest eccentricities during the Kozai-cycles, gravitational wave emission becomes highly efficient. Some binaries in this environment can inspiral and coalesce at timescales much shorter than a Hubble time and much shorter than similar binaries which do not reside near a SMBH. The close environment of SMBHs could therefore serve as catalyst for the inspiral and coalescence of binaries, and strongly affect their orbital properties. Such compact binaries would be detectable as gravitational wave (GW) sources by the next generation of GW detectors (e.g. advanced- LIGO). About 0.5% of such nuclear merging binaries will enter the LIGO observational window while on orbit that are still very eccentric (e>~0.5). The efficient gravitational wave analysis for such systems would therefore require the use of eccentric templates. We also find that binaries very close to the MBH could evolve through a complex dynamical (non-secular) evolution leading to emission of several GW pulses during only a few yrs (though these are likely to be rare). Finally, we note that the formation of close stellar binaries, X-ray binaries and their merger products could be induced by similar secular processes, combined with tidal friction rather than GW emission as in the case of compact object binaries.
Comment: 15 pages, 7 Figures. ApJ accepted