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Astrophysics

Title: Observable Signatures of a Black Hole Ejected by Gravitational Radiation Recoil in a Galaxy Merger

Authors: Abraham Loeb (Harvard)
Abstract: According to recent general-relativistic simulations, the coalescence of two spinning black holes (BHs) could lead to recoil speeds of the BH remnant of up to thousands of km/s as a result of the emission of gravitational radiation. Such speeds would enable the merger product to escape its host galaxy. Here we examine the circumstances resulting from a gas-rich galaxy merger under which the ejected BH would carry an accretion disk with it and be observable. As the initial BH binary emits gravitational radiation and its orbit tightens, a hole is opened around it in the disk which delays the consumption of gas prior to the eventual BH ejection. The punctured disk remains bound to the ejected BH within the region where the gas orbital velocity is larger than the ejection speed. For a ~10^7 solar mass BH the ejected disk has a characteristic size of tens of thousands of Schwarzschild radii and an accretion lifetime of ~10^7 years. During that time, the ejected BH could traverse a considerable distance and appear as an off-center quasar with a feedback trail along the path it left behind. A small fraction of all quasars could be associated with an escaping BH.
Comments: 4 pages, Accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters
Subjects: Astrophysics (astro-ph); General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc); High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (hep-ph)
Journal reference: Phys.Rev.Lett.99:041103,2007
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.041103
Cite as: arXiv:astro-ph/0703722
  (or arXiv:astro-ph/0703722v2 for this version)

Submission history

From: Avi Loeb [view email]
[v1] Wed, 28 Mar 2007 14:05:19 GMT (9kb)
[v2] Tue, 22 May 2007 19:46:32 GMT (10kb)