Gravitational interactions of stars with supermassive black hole binaries - II. Hypervelocity stars

Siva Darbha, Eric R. Coughlin, Daniel Kasen, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in galactic nuclei can eject hypervelocity stars (HVSs). Using restricted three-body integrations, we study the properties of stars ejected by circular, binary SMBHs as a function of their mass ratios q = M2/M1 and separations a, focusing on the stellar velocity and angular distributions. We find that the ejection probability is an increasing function of q and a, and that the mean ejected velocity scales with q and a similar to previous work but with modified scaling constants. Binary SMBHs tend to eject their fastest stars towards the binary orbital plane. We calculate the ejection rates as the binary SMBHs inspiral, and find that they eject stars with velocities v > 1000 km s−1 at rates of ∼ 4 × 10−2 − 2 × 10−1 yr−1 for q = 1 (∼ 10−4 − 10−3 yr−1 for q = 0.01) over their lifetimes, and can emit a burst of HVSs with v > 3000 km s−1 as they coalesce. We integrate the stellar distributions over the binary SMBH inspiral and compare them to those produced by the 'Hills mechanism' (in which a single SMBH ejects a star after tidally separating a binary star system), and find that N ∼ 100 HVS velocity samples with v 200 km s−1 are needed to confidently distinguish between a binary and single SMBH origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2132-2148
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: Nuclei
  • Stars: Kinematics and dynamics
  • Stars: Statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Gravitational interactions of stars with supermassive black hole binaries - II. Hypervelocity stars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this