Orbital orientation evolution of massive binary black holes at the centres of non-spherical galaxies

At the centre of a spherical and kinematically isotropic galaxy, the orientation of a massive binary black hole (BBH) orbit (i.e., the direction of the BBH orbital angular momentum) undergoes a random walk. If the stars in a spherical system have a non-zero total angular momentum, the BBH orbital orientation evolves towards aligning with the total stellar angular momentum direction. In this paper, we show that a triaxial galaxy has an alignment-erasing effect, that is, the alignment of the BBH orientations towards the galaxy rotation axis can be decreased significantly or erased. We also show that in a non-rotating axisymmetric galaxy, the BBH orbital orientation evolves towards the axisymmetric axis and precesses about it in a retrograde direction. Our results provide a step towards understanding the spin orientations of the final merged BH (and hence probable orientation of any jet produced) within its host galaxy, and may help to constrain the recoiling velocity of the merged BH arose from gravitational wave radiation as well.

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Date added: Thu, 10 Oct 13