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Missing Link Found? — The “runaway” path to supermassive black holes

  • Toshikazu Ebisuzaki (a1)

Abstract

Observations of stellar kinematics, gas dynamics and masers around galactic nuclei have now firmly established that many galaxies host central supermassive black holes (SMBHs) with masses in the range 106 ∼ 109M. However, how these SMBHs formed is not well understood. One reason for this situation is the lack of observations of intermediate-mass BHs (IMBHs), which could bridge the gap between stellar-mass BHs and SMBHs. Recently, this missing link (i.e., an IMBH) has been found in observations made by ASCA and Chandra of the central region of the starburst galaxy M82 (Matsumoto and Tsuru 1999, Ptak and Griffith 1999, Matsumoto et al. 2001, Kaaret et al. 2001). Subsequent observations by SUBARU have revealed that this IMBH apparently coincides with a young compact star cluster. Based on these findings, we propose a new formation scenario for SMBHs. In this scenario, IMBHs first form in young compact star clusters through runaway merging of massive stars. While these IMBHs are forming, the host star clusters sink toward the galactic nucleus through dynamical friction, and upon evaporation deposit their IMBHs near the galactic center. The IMBHs then form binaries and eventually merge via gravitational radiation, forming an SMBH.

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Copyright

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