A Celestial Dance of Death

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A Celestial Dance of Death

Dr. Coughlin and his team performed hundreds of thousands of supercomputer simulations of the gravitational interactions that can occur between supermassive black hole duos and binary star systems. Based on their simulations, the astronomers concluded that there are many possible outcomes for such complicated celestial interactions.

The majority of these meet-ups result in two possible scenarios: either the entire intact stellar binary is evicted from the system or the stars are ejected one at a time. The latter scenario could only occur after the stellar binary system has been torn apart. However, the team also found several other intriguing possible outcomes:

1. Hills Capture, in which one of the unfortunate stars is hurled screaming out of the system, while the other star is captured into orbit around one of the members of the black hole binary.

2. Single and Double Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs), in which either one or both stars are completely ripped apart. The aftermath of this particular catastrophe would be that the stars’ material would then accrete onto the supermassive black hole binary.

3. Star Mergers, whereby the stellar duo lose angular momentum and, as a result, collide and merge. This particular scenario would result from the interaction with, and the ultimate ejection from, the black hole binary.

A Celestial Dance of Death

Dr. Coughlin and his team point out that the three more exotic possibilities are potentially very useful. This is because they would create tattle-tale signals that are consistent with certain observations. Also, these signals can tell astronomers what to look for in future observations.

For example, a double TDE could neatly explain the brilliant, double-peaked transient dubbed ASASSN-15th. The accelerated inspiral of a stellar binary could account for some calcium-rich transient signals that the team detected. This would occur after the stellar binary has already been shot out of its host galaxy by the supermassive black hole binary. According to this model, the two individual stars that were once members of the ill-fated binary–both having been ejected from their galaxy separately–may later be detectable as hypervelocity stars that display kindred spectroscopic properties even though they are now thousands of light-years apart.

The numerous possible outcomes that are triggered by encounters between binary stars and supermassive black hole binaries suggest that these possibilities should be investigated further. Also, the new models may help astronomers discover what they have been missing. mkvmoviesking

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