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Massive, spinning black holes may be the result of "Pac-Man-Like" mergers

  Accretion Disk Surrounding Supermassive Black Hole

This is a simulation of an accretion disc that surrounds a supermassive black hole. Credit: Scott C. Noble

Researchers have reported that they discovered gravitational waves from 10 black hole so far, but they are still trying to explain the origin of these mergers. The largest detected fusion to date seems to have defied earlier models because it has a higher rotation and mass than the range thought possible. A group of researchers, including Rochester Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Richard O. & # 39; Shaughnessy, have created simulations that can explain how the merger happened.

In a new article published Physical Review Letters published November 1, 2019, the researchers suggest that such large mergers can happen just outside super-massive black holes in the center of active galactic nuclei. Gas, stars, dust and black holes get stuck in a region that surrounds super-massive black holes known as the accretion plate. The researchers suggest that as black holes circle around the penetration plate, they eventually collide and merge to form a larger black hole, which continues to eat smaller black holes and grows larger in what O & # 39; Shaughnessy calls "Pac-Man-like "behavior.

"This is a very attractive opportunity for us working in this area," said O & # 39; Shaughnessy, a member of RIT's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (CCRG). “It offers a natural way of explaining mergers of high mass, high-spin binary black hole and producing binary parts in parameters that the other models cannot fill. There is no way to get certain types of black holes from these other formation channels. "

As LIGO and the Virgo collaboration continue to hunt for gravitational waves, O & # 39; Shaughnessy and his researchers hope to find signatures of large, spinning black holes that can help confirm their models. If their assumptions are correct, it can help us better understand how the galaxy's cosmic orbit collects.

"This can be a unique way of examining the physics of these super-massive black holes in a way that could not be explored in any other way," said O & # 39; Shaughnessy. "It provides unique insight into how the centers of galaxies grow, which is of course crucial for understanding how galaxies as a whole grow, which explains most of the structure of the universe."


Reference: "Hierarchical black hole mergers in active galactic nuclei
Y. Yang, I. Bartos, V. Gayathri, KES Ford, Z. Haiman, S. Klimenko, B. Kocsis , S. Márka, Z. Márka, B. McKernan and R. O & # 39; Shaughnessy
Phys. Pastor Lett. 123, 181101 – Published November 1, 2019

RIT's CCRG has a large and active group of 18 faculties , students and postdoctoral fellows involved in LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

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