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We find that the formation of MWC 656 (the first Be binary containing a black hole) involves a common envelope phase and a supernova explosion. This result supports the idea that a rapidly rotating Be star can emerge out of a common envelope phase, which is very intriguing because this evolutionary stage is thought to be too fast to lead to significant accretion and spin up of the B star.We predict ~10-100 of B-BH binaries to currently reside in the Galactic disc, among which around 1/3 contain a Be star, but there is only a small chance to observe a system with parameters resembling MWC 656. If MWC 656 is representative of intrinsic Galactic Be-BH binary population, it may indicate that standard evolutionary theory needs to be revised. This would pose another evolutionary problem in understanding black hole (BH) binaries, with BH X-ray novae formation issue being the prime example. Future evolution of MWC 656 with an ~5 M⊙ BH and with an ~13 M⊙ main-sequence companion on an ~60 d orbit may lead to the formation of a coalescing BH-NS (neutron star) system. The estimated Advanced LIGO/Virgo detection rate of such systems is up to ~0.2 yr-1. This empirical estimate is a lower limit as it is obtained with only one particular evolutionary scenario, the MWC 656 binary. This is only a third such estimate available (after Cyg X-1 and Cyg X-3), and it lends additional support to the existence of so far undetected BH-NS binaries.


© Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Original version available at:

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society





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