When galaxies collide, dynamical friction drives their central supermassive black holes close enought to each other such that gravitational radiation becomes the leading dissipative effect. Gravitational radiation takes away energy, momentum and angular momentum from the compact binary, such that the black holes finally merge. In the process, the spin of the dominant black hole is reoriented. On observational level, the spins are directly related to the jets, which can be seen at radio frequencies. Images of the X-shaped radio galaxies together with evidence on the age of the jets illustrate that the jets are reoriented, a phenomenon known as spin-flip. Based on the galaxy luminosity statistics we argue here that the typical galaxy encounters involve mass ratios between 1:3 to 1:30 for the central black holes. Based on the spin-orbit precession and gravitational radiation we also argue that for this typical mass ratio in the inspiral phase of the merger the initially dominant orbital angular momentum will become smaller than the spin, which will be reoriented. We prove here that the spin-flip phenomenon typically occurs already in the inspiral phase, and as such is describable by post-Newtonian techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)