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Constraining the high-redshift formation of black hole seeds in nuclear star clusters with gas inflows

Abstract : In this paper, we explore a possible route of black hole seed formation that appeals to a model by Davies, Miller & Bellovary who considered the case of the dynamical collapse of a dense cluster of stellar black holes subjected to an inflow of gas. Here, we explore this case in a broad cosmological context. The working hypotheses are that (i) nuclear star clusters form at high redshifts in pre-galactic discs hosted in dark matter haloes, providing a suitable environment for the formation of stellar black holes in their cores, (ii) major central inflows of gas occur on to these clusters due to instabilities seeded in the growing discs and/or to mergers with other gas-rich haloes and (iii) following the inflow, stellar black holes in the core avoid ejection due to the steepening to the potential well, leading to core collapse and the formation of a massive seed of ≲ 1000 M. We simulate a cosmological box tracing the build-up of the dark matter haloes and their embedded baryons, and explore cluster evolution with a semi-analytical model. We show that this route is feasible, peaks at redshifts z ≲ 10 and occurs in concomitance with the formation of seeds from other channels. The channel is competitive relative to others, and is independent of the metal content of the parent cluster. This mechanism of gas-driven core collapse requires inflows with masses at least 10 times larger than the mass of the parent star cluster, occurring on time-scales shorter than the evaporation/ejection time of the stellar black holes from the core. In this respect, the results provide upper limit to the frequency of this process.
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A. Lupi, M. Colpi, B. Devecchi, G. Galanti, M. Volonteri. Constraining the high-redshift formation of black hole seeds in nuclear star clusters with gas inflows. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2014, 442, pp.3616-3626. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stu1120⟩. ⟨insu-03645336⟩

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