DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad2198 ISSN:

A vast population of wandering and merging IMBHs at cosmic noon

Tiziana Di Matteo, Yueying Ni, Nianyi Chen, Rupert Croft, Simeon Bird, Fabio Pacucci, Angelo Ricarte, Michael Tremmel
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


Massive black holes in the centres of galaxies today must have grown by several orders of magnitude from seed black holes formed at early times. Detecting a population of intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs) can provide constraints on these elusive BH seeds. Here, we use the large volume cosmological hydrodynamical simulation Astrid, which includes IMBH seeds and dynamical friction to investigate the population of IMBH seeds. Dynamical friction is largely inefficient at sinking and merging seed IMBHs at high-z. This leads to an extensive population (several hundred per galaxy) of wandering IMBHs in large haloes at $z\sim 2$. A small fraction of these IMBHs are detectable as HLXs, Hyper Luminous X-ray sources. Importantly, at $z\sim 2$, IMBHs mergers produce the peak of GW events. We find close to a million GW events in Astrid between $z=\rm{2\!-\!3}$ involving seed IMBH mergers. These GW events (almost all detectable by LISA) at cosmic noon should provide strong constraints on IMBH seed models and their formation mechanisms. At the centre of massive galaxies, where the number of IMBHs can be as high as 10–100, SMBH-IMBH pairs can form. These Intermediate mass ratio inspirals (IMRIs) and extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs), will require the next generation of milli-$\mu$Hz space-based GW interferometers to be detected. Large populations of IMBHs around massive black holes will probe their environments and MBH causal structure.

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