Hydrodynamical Evolution of Black-Hole Binaries Embedded in AGN Discs: II. Dependence on Equation of State, Binary Mass, and Separation Scales

Rixin Li, Dong Lai

Submitted on 3 July 2022


Stellar-mass binary black holes (BBHs) embedded in active galactic nucleus (AGN) discs offer a promising dynamical channel to produce black-hole mergers that are detectable by LIGO/Virgo. Modeling the interactions between the disc gas and the embedded BBHs is crucial to understand their orbital evolution. Using a suite of 2D high-resolution simulations of prograde equal-mass circular binaries in local disc models, we systematically study how their hydrodynamical evolution depends on the equation of state (EOS; including the γ-law and isothermal EOS) and on the binary mass and separation scales (relative to the supermassive BH mass and the Hill radius, respectively). We find that binaries accrete slower and contract in orbit if the EOS is far from isothermal such that the surrounding gas is diffuse, hot, and turbulent. The typical orbital decay rate is of the order of a few times the mass doubling rate. For a fixed EOS, the accretion flows are denser, hotter, and more turbulent around more massive or tighter binaries. The torque associated with accretion is often comparable to the gravitational torque, so both torques are essential in determining the long-term binary orbital evolution. We carry out additional simulations with non-accreting binaries and find that their orbital evolution can be stochastic and is sensitive to the gravitational softening length, and the secular orbital evolution can be very different from those of accreting binaries. Our results indicate that stellar-mass BBHs may be hardened efficiently under ideal conditions, namely less massive and wider binaries embedded in discs with a non-isothermal EOS.


Comment: 14 pages, 9 figures, submitted to MNRAS

Subjects: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies; Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics