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The Afterglow of Massive Black Hole Coalescence

Milosavljević, Miloš and Phinney, E. S. (2005) The Afterglow of Massive Black Hole Coalescence. Astrophysical Journal, 622 (2). L93-L96. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/429618.

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The final merger of a pair of massive black holes in a galactic nucleus is compelled by gravitational radiation. Gravitational waves from the mergers of black holes of masses 10^5-10^7(1 + z)^(-1) M_☉ at redshifts of 1-20 will be readily detectable by the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, but an electromagnetic afterglow would be helpful in pinpointing the source and its redshift. Long before the merger, the binary "hollows out" any surrounding gas and shrinks slowly compared to the viscous timescale of a circumbinary disk. The inner gas disk is truncated at the radius where gravitational torque from the binary balances the viscous torque, and accretion onto the black holes is diminished. Initially, the inner truncation radius is able to follow the shrinking binary inward. But eventually the gravitational radiation timescale becomes shorter than the viscous timescale in the disk, leading to a merged black hole surrounded by a hollow disk of gas. We show that the subsequent viscous evolution of the hollow, radiation pressure-dominated disk will create an ~10^(43.5) (M/10^6 M_☉) ergs s^(-1) X-ray source on a timescale ~7(1 + z)(M/10^6 M_☉)^(1.32) yr. This justifies follow-up monitoring of gravitational wave events with next-generation X-ray observatories. Analysis of the detailed light curve of these afterglows will yield new insights into the subtle physics of accretion onto massive black holes.

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Additional Information:© 2005. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2004 October 17; accepted 2005 February 14; published 2005 March 4. vWe thank Aaron Barth, Tsvi Piran, and Tom Prince for valuable discussions. M. M. was supported at Caltech by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. E. S. P. was supported in part by NASA ATP grants NAG5-10707 and NNG04GK98G.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:accretion, accretion disks; black hole physics; quasars: general; X-rays: galaxies
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190205-142059879
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Official Citation:Miloš Milosavljević and E. S. Phinney 2005 ApJ 622 L93
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92686
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:05 Feb 2019 23:08
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:52

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