Authors: Patrick Brem, Pau Amaro-Seoane, Carlos F. Sopuerta
Date: 23 Nov 2012
Abstract: The capture of a compact object in a galactic nucleus by a massive black hole (MBH), an extreme-mass ratio inspiral (EMRI), is the best way to map space and time around it. Recent work on stellar dynamics has demonstrated that there seems to be a complot in phase space acting on low-eccentricity captures, since their rates decrease significantly by the presence of a blockade in the rate at which orbital angular momenta change takes place. This so-called "Schwarzschild barrier" is a result of the impact of relativistic precession on to the stellar potential torques, and thus it affects the enhancement on lower-eccentricity EMRIs that one would expect from resonant relaxation. We confirm and quantify the existence of this barrier using a statistical sample of 2,500 direct-summation N-body simulations using both a post-Newtonian and also for the first time in a direct-summation code a geodesic approximation for the relativistic orbits. The existence of the barrier prevents low-eccentricity EMRIs from approaching the central MBH, but high-eccentricity EMRIs, which have been wrongly classified as "direct plunges" until recently, ignore the presence of the barrier, because they are driven by two-body relaxation. Hence, since the rates are significantly affected in the case of low-eccentricity EMRIs, we predict that a LISA-like observatory such as eLISA will predominantly detect high-eccentricity EMRIs.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis