Fabio Antonini - CITA

Fabio Antonini
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Fabio Antonini

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Astrophysics of Galaxies (23)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (9)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (6)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (4)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (4)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (2)
Astrophysics (1)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Fabio Antonini

The Milky Way and a significant fraction of galaxies are observed to host a central Massive Black Hole (MBH) embedded in a non-spherical nuclear star cluster. We study the secular orbital evolution of compact-object binaries in these environments and characterize the excitation of extremely large eccentricities that can lead to mergers by gravitational radiation. We find that the eccentricity excitation occurs most efficiently when the nodal precession timescale of the binary's orbit around the MBH due to the non-spherical cluster becomes comparable (within a factor of ~10) to the timescale on which the binary is torqued by the MBH due to the Lidov-Kozai (LK) mechanism. Read More

We consider the formation of binary black hole mergers through the evolution of field massive triple stars. In this scenario, favorable conditions for the inspiral of a black hole binary are initiated by its gravitational interaction with a distant companion, rather than by a common-envelope phase invoked in standard binary evolution models. We use a code that follows self-consistently the evolution of massive triple stars, combining the secular triple dynamics (Lidov-Kozai cycles) with stellar evolution. Read More

The supermassive black holes originally in the nuclei of two merging galaxies will form a binary in the remnant core. The early evolution of the massive binary is driven by dynamical friction before the binary becomes "hard" and eventually reaches coalescence through gravitational wave emission. { We consider the dynamical friction evolution of massive binaries consisting of a secondary hole orbiting inside a stellar cusp dominated by a more massive central black hole. Read More

We consider the origins of enigmatic stellar populations in four Local Group galactic nuclei, specifically the Milky Way, M31, M32 and M33. These are centrally concentrated blue stars, found in three out of the four nuclear star clusters (NSCs) considered here. Their origins are unknown, but could include blue straggler (BS) stars, extended horizontal branch stars and young recently formed stars. Read More

The intermediate mass-ratio inspiral of a stellar compact remnant into an intermediate mass black hole (IMBH) can produce a gravitational wave (GW) signal that is potentially detectable by current ground-based GW detectors (e.g., Advanced LIGO) as well as by planned space-based interferometers (e. Read More

Motivated by the recent detection of gravitational waves from the black hole binary merger GW150914, we study the dynamical evolution of black holes in galactic nuclei where massive star clusters reside. With masses of ~10^7M_Sun and sizes of only a few parsecs, nuclear star clusters are the densest stellar systems observed in the local universe and represent a robust environment where (stellar mass) black hole binaries can dynamically form, harden and merge. We show that due to their large escape speeds, nuclear star clusters can keep a large fraction of their merger remnants while also evolving rapidly enough that the holes can sink back to the central regions where they can swap in new binaries that can subsequently harden and merge. Read More

Gas giants orbiting their host star within the ice line are thought to have migrated to their current locations from farther out. Here we consider the origin and dynamical evolution of observed Jupiters, focusing on hot and warm Jupiters with outer friends. We show that the majority of the observed Jupiter pairs (twenty out of twenty-four) will be dynamically unstable if the inner planet was placed at >~1AU distance from the stellar host. Read More

Hierarchical triple-star systems are expected to form frequently via close binary-binary encounters in the dense cores of globular clusters. In a sufficiently inclined triple, gravitational interactions between the inner and outer binary can cause large-amplitude oscillations in the eccentricity of the inner orbit ("Lidov-Kozai cycles"), which can lead to a collision and merger of the two inner components. In this paper we use Monte Carlo models of dense star clusters to identify all triple systems formed dynamically and we compute their evolution using a highly accurate three-body integrator which incorporates relativistic and tidal effects. Read More

Studying how nuclear star clusters (NSCs) form and how they are related to the growth of the central massive black holes (MBHs) and their host galaxies is fundamental for our understanding of the evolution of galaxies and the processes that have shaped their central structures. We present the results of a semi-analytical galaxy formation model that follows the evolution of dark matter halos along merger trees, as well as that of the baryonic components. This model allows us to study the evolution of NSCs in a cosmological context, by taking into account the growth of NSCs due to both dynamical friction-driven migration of stellar clusters and star formation triggered by infalling gas, while also accounting for dynamical heating from (binary) MBHs. Read More

A binary supermassive black hole loses energy via ejection of stars in a galactic nucleus, until emission of gravitational waves becomes strong enough to induce rapid coalescence. Evolution via the gravitational slingshot requires that stars be continuously supplied to the binary, and it is known that in spherical galaxies the reservoir of such stars is quickly depleted, leading to stalling of the binary at parsec-scale separations. Recent N-body simulations of galaxy mergers and isolated nonspherical galaxies suggest that this stalling may not occur in less idealized systems. Read More

A literature compilation of nuclear star cluster (NSC) masses is used to study the correlation between global and nuclear properties. A comparison of observational data to the predictions of semi-analytical galaxy formation models places constraints on the co-evolution of NSCs, massive black holes (MBHs) and host galaxies. Both data and theoretical predictions show an increased scatter in the NSC scaling correlations at high galaxy masses, and we show that this is due to the progressively more efficient ejection of stars from NSCs caused by MBH binaries in more massive stellar spheroids. Read More

The central region of the galaxy Henize 2-10 has a central black hole (BH) with a mass of about $2\times 10^6$ M$_\odot$. While this black hole does not appear to coincide with any central stellar over density, it is surrounded by 11 young massive clusters with masses above $10^5$ M$_\odot$. The availability of high quality data on the structure of the galaxy and the age and mass of the clusters provides excellent initial conditions for studying the dynamical evolution of Henize 2-10's nucleus. Read More

We study the secular gravitational dynamics of quadruple systems consisting of a hierarchical triple system orbited by a fourth body. These systems can be decomposed into three binary systems with increasing semimajor axes, binaries A, B and C. The Hamiltonian of the system is expanded in ratios of the three binary separations, and orbit-averaged. Read More

Here we discuss the evolution of binaries around MBH in nuclear stellar clusters. We focus on their secular evolution due to the perturbation by the MBH, while simplistically accounting for their collisional evolution. Binaries with highly inclined orbits in respect to their orbit around the MBH are strongly affected by secular processes, which periodically change their eccentricities and inclinations (e. Read More

We study the long term dynamical evolution of stellar mass black holes (BHs) at the Galactic center (GC) and put constraints on their number and central mass distribution. Models of the GC are considered that have not yet achieved a steady state under the influence of random gravitational encounters. Contrary to some recent claims that mass-segregation can rapidly rebuild a density cusp in the stars, we find that time scales associated with cusp regrowth are longer than the Hubble time. Read More

We consider the evolution of supermassive black hole binaries at the center of spherical, axisymmetric, and triaxial galaxies, using direct N-body integrations as well as analytic estimates. We find that the rates of binary hardening exhibit a significant N-dependence in all the models, at least for N in the investigated range of 10^5<=N<=10^6. Binary hardening rates are also substantially lower than would be expected if the binary loss cone remained full, as it would be if the orbits supplying stars to the binary were being efficiently replenished. Read More

Coalescing black hole (BH) binaries forming in the dense core of globular clusters (GCs) are expected to be one the brightest sources of gravitational wave (GW) radiation for the next generation of ground-based laser interferometers. Favorable conditions for merger are initiated by the Kozai resonance in which the gravitational interaction with a third distant object, typically another BH, induces quasi-periodic variations of the inner BH binary eccentricity. In this paper we perform high precision N-body simulations of the long term evolution of hierarchical BH triples and investigate the conditions that lead to the merging of the BH binary and the way it might become an observable source of GW radiation. Read More

We consider the orbital evolution of the S-stars, the young main-sequence stars near the supermassive black hole (SBH) at the Galactic center (GC), and put constraints on competing models for their origin. Our analysis includes for the first time the joint effects of Newtonian and relativistic perturbations to the motion, including the dragging of inertial frames by a spinning SBH as well as torques due to finite-N asymmetries in the field-star distribution (resonant relaxation, RR). The evolution of the S-star orbits is strongly influenced by the Schwarzschild barrier (SB), the locus in the (E,L) plane where RR is ineffective at driving orbits to higher eccentricities. Read More

The centers of stellar spheroids are often marked by the presence of nucleated central regions, called nuclear star clusters (NSCs). The origin of NSCs is still unclear. Here we investigate the possibility that NSCs originate from the migration and merger of stellar clusters at the center of galaxies where a massive black hole (MBH) may sit. Read More

The environment near super massive black holes (SMBHs) in galactic nuclei contain a large number of stars and compact objects. A fraction of these are likely to be members of binaries. Here we discuss the binary population of stellar black holes and neutron stars near SMBHs and focus on the secular evolution of such binaries, due to the perturbation by the SMBH. Read More

Abridged: In one widely discussed model for the formation of nuclear star clusters (NSCs), massive globular clusters spiral into the center of a galaxy and merge to form the nucleus. It is now known that at least some NSCs coexist with supermassive black holes (SBHs); this is the case, for instance, in the Milky Way (MW). In this paper, we investigate how the presence of a SMBH at the center of the MW impacts the merger hypothesis for the formation of its NSC. Read More

The density of stars in galactic bulges is often observed to be flat or slowly rising inside the influence radius of the supermassive black hole (SMBH). Attributing the dynamical friction force to stars moving more slowly than the test body, as is commonly done, is likely to be a poor approximation in such a core since there are no stars moving more slowly than the local circular velocity. We have tested this prediction using large-scale N-body experiments. Read More

In the center of the Milky Way, as well as in many other galaxies, a compact star cluster around a very massive black hole is observed. One of the possible explanations for the formation of such Nuclear Star Clusters is based on the 'merging' of globular clusters in the inner galactic potential well. By mean of sophisticated N-body simulations, we checked the validity of this hypothesis and found that it may actually has been the one leading to the formation of the Milky Way Nuclear Star Cluster. Read More

In Paper I, we followed the evolution of binary stars as they orbited near the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the Galactic center, noting the cases in which the two stars would come close enough together to collide. In this paper we replace the point-mass stars by fluid realizations, and use a smoothed-particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code to follow the close interactions. We model the binary components as main-sequence stars with initial masses of 1, 3 and 6 Solar masses, and with chemical composition profiles taken from stellar evolution codes. Read More

We report the XMM-Newton/EPIC detection in 2008 March of a luminous (L_X ~ 10^32-33 erg/s), variable X-ray source in the vicinity (within ~6") of the enigmatic star V838 Mon, which underwent a spectacular outburst in early 2002. Spectral modeling of the XMM-Newton X-ray source indicates the presence of two plasma components with characteristic temperatures of TX ~ 2x10^6K and ~1.5x10^7K, attenuated by an absorbing column (N_H ~ 4 x 10^21cm^-2) that is consistent with the visual extinction measured toward V838 Mon (A_V ~ 2). Read More

The tidal breakup of binary star systems by the supermassive black hole (SMBH) in the center of the galaxy has been suggested as the source of both the observed sample of hypervelocity stars (HVSs) in the halo of the Galaxy and the S-stars that remain in tight orbits around Sgr A*. Here, we use a post-Newtonian N-body code to study the dynamics of main-sequence binaries on highly elliptical bound orbits whose periapses lie close to the SMBH, determining the properties of ejected and bound stars as well as collision products. Unlike previous studies, we follow binaries that remain bound for several revolutions around the SMBH, finding that in the case of relatively large periapses and highly inclined binaries the Kozai resonance can lead to large periodic oscillations in the internal binary eccentricity and inclination. Read More

Self-consistent solutions for triaxial mass models are highly non-unique. In general, some of these solutions might be dynamically unstable, making them inappropriate as descriptions of steady-state galaxies. Here we demonstrate for the first time the existence in triaxial galaxy models of an instability similar to the radial-orbit instability of spherical models. Read More

The radial-orbit instability is a collective phenomenon that has heretofore only been observed in spherical systems. We find that this instability occurs also in triaxial systems, as we checked by performing extensive N-body simulations whose initial conditions were obtained by sampling a self-consistent triaxial model of a cuspy galaxy composed of luminous and dark matter. N-body simulations show a time evolution of the galaxy that is not due to the development of chaotic motions but, rather, to the collective instability induced by an excess of box-like orbits. Read More