Binary black holes in young star clusters: The impact of metallicity

Ugo N. Di Carlo, Michela Mapelli, Nicola Giacobbo, Mario Spera, Yann Bouffanais, Sara Rastello, Filippo Santoliquido, Mario Pasquato, Alessandro Ballone, Alessandro A. Trani, Stefano Torniamenti, Francesco Haardt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Young star clusters are the most common birthplace of massive stars and are dynamically active environments. Here, we study the formation of black holes (BHs) and binary black holes (BBHs) in young star clusters, by means of 6000 N-body simulations coupled with binary population synthesis. We probe three different stellar metallicities (Z = 0.02, 0.002, and 0.0002) and two initial-density regimes (density at the half-mass radius ρh ≥ 3.4 × 104 and ≥1.5 × 102 M pc-3 in dense and loose star clusters, respectively). Metal-poor clusters tend to form more massive BHs than metal-rich ones. We find ∼6, ∼2, and <1 per cent of BHs with mass mBH > 60 M at Z = 0.0002, 0.002, and 0.02, respectively. In metal-poor clusters, we form intermediate-mass BHs with mass up to ∼320 M. BBH mergers born via dynamical exchanges (exchanged BBHs) can be more massive than BBH mergers formed from binary evolution: the former (latter) reach total mass up to ∼140 M (∼80 M). The most massive BBH merger in our simulations has primary mass ∼88 M, inside the pair-instability mass gap, and a mass ratio of ∼0.5. Only BBHs born in young star clusters from metal-poor progenitors can match the masses of GW 170729, the most massive event in first and second observing run (O1 and O2), and those of GW 190412, the first unequal-mass merger. We estimate a local BBH merger rate density ∼110 and ∼55 Gpc-3 yr-1, if we assume that all stars form in loose and dense star clusters, respectively.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)495-506
    Number of pages12
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


    • binaries: general
    • black hole physics
    • galaxies: star clusters: general
    • gravitational waves
    • methods: numerical
    • stars: kinematics and dynamics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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