Hydrodynamic Torques in Circumbinary Accretion Disks

Mackenzie S.L. Moody, Ji Ming Shi, James M. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Gaseous disks have been proposed as a mechanism for facilitating mergers of binary black holes. We explore circumbinary disk systems to determine the evolution of the central binary. To do so, we perform 3D, hydrodynamic, locally isothermal simulations of circumbinary disks on a Cartesian grid. We focus on binaries of equal mass ratios on fixed circular orbits. To investigate the orbital evolution of the binary, we examine the various torques exerted on the system. For the case where the disk plane and binary orbital plane are aligned, we find that the total torque is positive so that the semimajor axis of the binary increases. For the misaligned case, we run simulations with the binary orbital plane and disk midplane misaligned by 45 and find the same results - the binary grows. The timescale for the circumbinary disk to realign to the plane of the binary is consistent with the global viscous timescale of the disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • binaries: general
  • hydrodynamics
  • methods: numerical


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