Accretion disks around binary black holes: A simple GR-hybrid evolution model

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We consider a geometrically thin, Keplerian disk in the orbital plane of a binary black hole (BHBH) consisting of a spinning primary and low-mass secondary (mass ratio q1). To account for the principle effects of general relativity (GR), we propose a modification of the standard Newtonian evolution equation for the (orbit-averaged) time-varying disk surface density. In our modified equation the viscous torque in the disk is treated in full GR, while the tidal torque is handled in the Newtonian limit. Our GR-hybrid treatment is reasonable because the tidal torque is concentrated near the orbital radius of the secondary and is most important prior to binary-disk decoupling, when the orbital separation is large and resides in the weak-field regime. The tidal torque on the disk diminishes during late merger and vanishes altogether following merger. By contrast, the viscous torque drives the flow into the strong-field region and onto the primary during all epochs. Following binary coalescence, the viscous torque alone governs the time-dependent accretion onto the remnant, as well as the temporal behavior, strength and spectrum of the aftermath electromagnetic radiation from the disk. We solve our GR-hybrid equation for a representative BHBH-disk system, identify several observable EM signatures of the merger, and compare results obtained for the gas and EM radiation with those found with the Newtonian prescription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103009
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 16 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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