The growing list of binary black hole (BBH) mergers detected in gravitational waves (GWs) by LIGO/Virgo, have been used to put tight constraints on Einstein's Theory of Gravity. However, their astrophysical origin still remains a major open question. Recently, active galactic nuclei (AGN) disks have been suggested to be a promising location for forming BBH mergers. In such environments, black holes (BHs) either form in the disk or are captured through gas-drag from the surrounding nuclear star cluster. Exactly how the BHs pair up, and eventually merge, is likely a product of dynamical interactions taking place while the BHs migrate through the disk; however, no leading groups have so far been able to deliver a consistent description of this extremely important part. As a Marie Curie Fellow, I will for the first time present a full numerical and analytical framework for describing the dynamical formation of BBH mergers in AGN-disks. This will, in particular, include both post-Newtonian (PN) corrections, and gas-friction effects, for describing the following key dynamical processes: BH-BH binary formation through GW emission and gas-friction; BBH-BH interactions both in the strong (resonating) and weak (secular) regime; and the secular evolution of two and/or more BHs in hierarchical configurations. The goal of this study will be to provide the community with testable predictions that can be used to constrain this channel using GW data from LIGO/Virgo, especially including the distribution of BBH mass ratio, BBH orbital eccentricity, and BH spin-orbit misalignment angles. The project will be carried out at the Niels Bohr International Academy (NBIA) under the supervision of Prof. M. Pessah. The interdisciplinary environment, vibrant atmosphere, and exceptional scientists make the NBIA not only the ideal host for this project, but further ensure that I will mature into a prominent scientist in my field during the time of the Marie Curie Fellowship.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.2 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Main Programme