Placeholder image for staff profile

Dr Imran Nasim

Postgraduate Research Student

My publications


Imran Tariq Nasim, Alessia Gualandris, Justin I Read, Fabio Antonini, Walter Dehnen, Maxime Delorme (2021)Formation of the largest galactic cores through binary scouring and gravitational wave recoil, In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society502(4)pp. 4794-4814

Massive elliptical galaxies are typically observed to have central cores in their projected radial light profiles. Such cores have long been thought to form through ‘binary scouring’ as supermassive black holes (SMBHs), brought in through mergers, form a hard binary and eject stars from the galactic centre. However, the most massive cores, like the $\sim 3{\, \mathrm{kpc}}$ core in A2261-BCG, remain challenging to explain in this way. In this paper, we run a suite of dry galaxy merger simulations to explore three different scenarios for central core formation in massive elliptical galaxies: ‘binary scouring’, ‘tidal deposition’, and ‘gravitational wave (GW) induced recoil’. Using the griffin code, we self-consistently model the stars, dark matter, and SMBHs in our merging galaxies, following the SMBH dynamics through to the formation of a hard binary. We find that we can only explain the large surface brightness core of A2261-BCG with a combination of a major merger that produces a small $\sim 1{\, \mathrm{kpc}}$ core through binary scouring, followed by the subsequent GW recoil of its SMBH that acts to grow the core size. Key predictions of this scenario are an offset SMBH surrounded by a compact cluster of bound stars and a non-divergent central density profile. We show that the bright ‘knots’ observed in the core region of A2261-BCG are best explained as stalled perturbers resulting from minor mergers, though the brightest may also represent ejected SMBHs surrounded by a stellar cloak of bound stars.

Imran Nasim, Alessia Gualandris, Justin Read, Walter Dehnen, Maxime Delorme, Fabio Antonini (2020)Defeating stochasticity: coalescence timescales of massive black holes in galaxy mergers, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press

The coalescence of massive black hole binaries (BHBs) in galactic mergers is the primary source of gravitational waves (GWs) at low frequencies. Current estimates of GW detection rates for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna and the Pulsar Timing Array vary by three orders of magnitude. To understand this variation, we simulate the merger of equal-mass, eccentric, galaxy pairs with central massive black holes and shallow inner density cusps. We model the formation and hardening of a central BHB using the Fast Multiple Method as a force solver, which features a O¹Nº scaling with the number N of particles and obtains results equivalent to direct-summation simulations. At N 5105, typical for contemporary studies, the eccentricity of the BHBs can vary significantly for different random realisations of the same initial condition, resulting in a substantial variation of the merger timescale. This scatter owes to the stochasticity of stellar encounters with the BHB and decreases with increasing N. We estimate that N 107 within the stellar half-light radius suffices to reduce the scatter in the merger timescale to 10%. Our results suggest that at least some of the uncertainty in low-frequency GW rates owes to insufficient numerical resolution.