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Title: Stable counteralignment of a circumbinary disc
Authors: Nixon, Chris J.
First Published: 1-Jul-2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
Citation: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2012, 423 (3), pp. 2597-2600
Abstract: In general, when gas accretes on to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) binary, it is likely to have no prior knowledge of the binary angular momentum. Therefore, a circumbinary disc forms with a random inclination angle θ to the binary. It is known that for θ < 90° the disc will coalign with respect to the binary. If θ > 90°, the disc wholly counteraligns if it satisfies cos θ < −Jd/2Jb, where Jd and Jb are the magnitudes of the disc and binary angular momentum vectors, respectively. If, however, θ > 90° and this criterion is not satisfied, the same disc may counteralign its inner regions and, on longer time-scales, coalign its outer regions. I show that for typical disc parameters, describing an accretion event on to an SMBH binary, a misaligned circumbinary disc is likely to wholly coalign or counteralign with the binary plane. This is because the binary angular momentum dominates the disc angular momentum. However, with extreme parameters (binary mass ratio M2/M1≪ 1 or binary eccentricity e∼ 1), the same disc may simultaneously coalign and counteralign. It is known that coplanar prograde circumbinary discs are stable. I show that coplanar retrograde circumbinary discs are also stable. A chaotic accretion event on to an SMBH binary will therefore result in a coplanar circumbinary disc that is either prograde or retrograde with respect to the binary plane.
DOI Link: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21072.x
ISSN: 0035-8711
eISSN: 1365-2966
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Copyright © 2012 the authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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