An overabundance of black hole X-ray binaries in the Galactic Centre from tidal captures

A. Generozov*, N. C. Stone, B. D. Metzger, J. P. Ostriker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


A large population of X-ray binaries (XRBs) was recently discovered within the central parsec of the Galaxy by Hailey et al. While the presence of compact objects on this scale due to radial mass segregation is, in itself, unsurprising, the fraction of binaries would naively be expected to be small because of how easily primordial binaries are dissociated in the dynamically hot environment of the nuclear star cluster (NSC). We propose that the formation of XRBs in the central parsec is dominated by the tidal capture of stars by black holes (BHs) and neutron stars (NSs).We model the time-dependent radial density profiles of stars and compact objects in the NSC with a Fokker-Planck approach, using the present-day stellar population and rate of in situ massive star (and thus compact object) formation as observational constraints. Of the ~1-4 × 104 BHs that accumulate in the central parsec over the age of the Galaxy, we predict that ~60-200 currently exist as BH-XRBs formed from tidal capture, consistent with the population seen by Hailey et al. A somewhat lower number of tidal capture NS-XRBs is also predicted. We also use our observationally calibrated models for the NSC to predict rates of other exotic dynamical processes, such as the tidal disruption of stars by the central supermassive BH (~10-4 per year at z = 0).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4030-4051
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Black holes physics
  • X-rays: binaries


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