Binary supermassive black holes form naturally in galaxy mergers, but their long-termevolution is uncertain. In spherical galaxies, N-body simulations show that binary evolution stalls at separations much too large for significant emission of gravitational waves (the “final parsec problem”). Here, we follow the long-term evolution of a massive binary in more realistic, triaxial and rotating galaxy models. We find that the binary does not stall. The binary hardening rates that we observe are sufficient to allow complete coalescence of binary SBHs in 10 Gyr or less, even in the absence of collisional loss-cone refilling or gas-dynamical torques, thus providing a potential solution to the final parsec problem.

Publication Date



This is the pre-print of an article published by the American Astronomical Society. The final, published version is available here: https://doi.org/10.1086/504426

© 2006 The American Astronomical Society

Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/0601698 v1 Jan 30 2006

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus