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Three-body interactions are expected to be common in globular clusters and in galactic cores hosting supermassive black holes. We consider an equal-mass binary black hole system in the presence of a third black hole. Using numerically generated binary black hole initial data sets, and first and second-order post-Newtonian (1PN and 2PN) techniques, we find that the presence of the third black hole has nonnegligible relativistic effects on the location of the binary’s innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO), and that these effects arise at 2PN order. For a stellar-mass black hole binary in orbit about a supermassive black hole, the massive black hole has stabilizing effects on the orbiting binary, leading to an increase in merger time and a decrease of the terminal orbital frequency, and an amplification of the gravitational radiation emitted from the binary system by up to 6%.


© 2006 The American Physical Society

Publication Title

Physical Review D





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