- Conference date: 24-26 April 2003
- Location: College Park, Maryland (USA)
We follow the sinking of two massive black holes in a spherical stellar system by means of high precision direct N‐body simulation. The massive particles become bound under the regime of dynamical friction. Once bound, the binary hardens by superelastic three body encounters with surrounding stars. It is found that the cumulative effect of many of such resonant encounters keeps the black hole binary at a very high eccentricity and helps to bring the black holes close enough together that they can merge by gravitational radiation in a time scale of the order of 108 years (avoiding the stalling problem). While most of our study presently uses an idealized system (equal black hole masses, flat galactic core) more simulations are under way which vary black hole mass ratios. We discuss the situation in the recently discovered double black hole nucleus in NGC6240 (see this conference) in light of our results. Recent models of one of the authors (JM) show, that the presence of a third black hole in a dense nucleus after another merger took place could enhance the eccentricity of a black hole binary even more dramatically. The detectability of gravitational waves via pulsar timing from such extremely eccentric black holes is estimated.
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