SCYON Abstract

Received on July 25 2006

Ejection of Hyper-Velocity Stars from the Galactic Centre by Intermediate-Mass Black Holes

AuthorsHolger Baumgardt (1),
Alessia Gualandris (2),
Simon Portegies Zwart (2)
(1) AIfA, University of Bonn
(2) Astronomical Institute and Section Computational Science,
University of Amsterdam
Accepted byMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


We have performed N-body simulations of the formation of hyper-velocity stars (HVS) in the centre of the Milky Way due to inspiralling intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). We considered IMBHs of different masses, all starting from circular orbits at an initial distance of 0.1 pc. We find that the IMBHs sink to the centre of the Galaxy due to dynamical friction, where they deplete the central cusp of stars. Some of these stars become HVS and are ejected with velocities sufficiently high to escape the Galaxy. Since the HVS carry with them information about their origin, in particular in the moment of ejection, the velocity distribution and the direction in which they escape the Galaxy, detecting a population of HVS will provide insight in the ejection processes and could therefore provide indirect evidence for the existence of IMBHs. Our simulations show that HVS are generated in short bursts which last only a few Myrs until the IMBH is swallowed by the supermassive black hole (SMBH). HVS are ejected almost isotropically, which makes IMBH induced ejections hard to distinguish from ejections due to encounters of stellar binaries with a SMBH. After the HVS have reached the galactic halo, their escape velocities correlate with the distance from the Galactic centre in the sense that the fastest HVS can be found furthest away from the centre. The velocity distribution of HVS generated by inspiralling IMBHs is also nearly independent of the mass of the IMBH and can be quite distinct from one generated by binary encounters. Finally, our simulations show that the presence of an IMBH in the Galactic centre changes the stellar density distribution inside r<0.02 pc into a core profile, which takes at least 100 Myrs to replenish.