Title: Constructing a Factory for Predicting Merger Rates of Black Hole Pairs
Abstract: In this talk, I will briefly review the general three-body problem and its present-day astrophysical significance. I will then go on to introduce a probabilistic solution for the outcomes of chaotic three-body interactions mediated by gravity, and describe how my collaborators and I are using this new tool to build a diffusion-based model that evolves entire populations of binary stars in dense star clusters due to three-body interactions with single stars. The model is entirely analytic, and covers regions of parameter space that are only accessible to modern simulations with great computational cost. The tool is designed to handle any set of initial conditions, and compute almost instantaneously the full dynamical evolution of the binary population over many billions of years. Hence, this tool is a potential game changer for predicting merger rates for black hole binaries from the dynamical formation channel, sweeping through the parameter space of initial conditions with minimal computational expense.
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