The Kozai Mechanism and the Evolution of Binary Supermassive Black Holes

Omer Blaes, Man Hoi Lee, Aristotle Socrates
2002 Astrophysical Journal  
We consider the dynamical evolution of bound, hierarchical triples of supermassive black holes that might be formed in the nuclei of galaxies undergoing sequential mergers. The tidal force of the outer black hole on the inner binary produces eccentricity oscillations through the Kozai mechanism, and this can substantially reduce the gravitational wave merger time of the inner binary. We numerically calculate the merger time for a wide range of initial conditions and black hole mass ratios,
more » ... ding the effects of octupole interactions in the triple as well as general relativistic periastron precession in the inner binary. The semimajor axes and the mutual inclination of the inner and outer binaries are the most important factors affecting the merger time. We find that for a random distribution of inclination angles and approximately equal mass black holes, it is possible to reduce the merger time of a near circular inner binary by more than a factor of ten in over fifty percent of all cases. We estimate that a typical exterior quadrupole moment from surrounding matter in the galaxy may also be sufficient to excite eccentricity oscillations in supermassive black hole binaries, and also accelerate black hole mergers.
doi:10.1086/342655 fatcat:jbbwj3iwpfci3l6b5l5tluynse