A case for a binary black hole system revealed via quasi-periodic outflows

Dheeraj R. Pasham, Francesco Tombesi, Petra Suková, Michal Zajaček, Suvendu Rakshit, Eric Coughlin, Peter Kosec, Vladimír Karas, Megan Masterson, Andrew Mummery, Thomas W.S. Holoien, Muryel Guolo, Jason Hinkle, Bart Ripperda, Vojtěch Witzany, Ben Shappee, Erin Kara, Assaf Horesh, Sjoert van Velzen, Itai SfaradiDavid Kaplan, Noam Burger, Tara Murphy, Ronald Remillard, James F. Steiner, Thomas Wevers, Riccardo Arcodia, Johannes Buchner, Andrea Merloni, Adam Malyali, Andy Fabian, Michael Fausnaugh, Tansu Daylan, Diego Altamirano, Anna Payne, Elizabeth C. Ferraraa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Binaries containing a compact object orbiting a supermassive black hole are thought to be precursors of gravitational wave events, but their identification has been extremely challenging. Here, we report quasi-periodic variability in x-ray absorption, which we interpret as quasi-periodic outflows (QPOuts) from a previously low-luminosity active galactic nucleus after an outburst, likely caused by a stellar tidal disruption. We rule out several models based on observed properties and instead show using general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations that QPOuts, separated by roughly 8.3 days, can be explained with an intermediate-mass black hole secondary on a mildly eccentric orbit at a mean distance of about 100 gravitational radii from the primary. Our work suggests that QPOuts could be a new way to identify intermediate/extreme-mass ratio binary candidates.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbereadj8898
JournalScience Advances
Volume10
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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