- (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
- (2) University of California, Santa Cruz, grid.205975.c
The inspiral and merger of eccentric binaries leads to gravitational waveforms distinct from those generated by circularly merging binaries. Dynamical environments can assemble binaries with high eccentricity and peak frequencies within the LIGO band. In this paper, we study binary-single stellar scatterings occurring in dense stellar systems as a source of eccentrically inspiraling binaries. Many interactions between compact binaries and single objects are characterized by chaotic resonances in which the binary-single system undergoes many exchanges before reaching a final state. During these chaotic resonances, a pair of objects has a non-negligible probability of experiencing a very close passage. Significant orbital energy and angular momentum are carried away from the system by gravitational wave (GW) radiation in these close passages, and in some cases this implies an inspiral time shorter than the orbital period of the bound third body. We derive the cross section for such dynamical inspiral outcomes through analytical arguments and through numerical scattering experiments including GW losses. We show that the cross section for dynamical inspirals grows with increasing target binary semi-major axis a and that for equal-mass binaries it scales as a 2/7. Thus, we expect wide target binaries to predominantly contribute to the production of these relativistic outcomes. We estimate that eccentric inspirals account for approximately 1% of dynamically assembled non-eccentric merging binaries. While these events are rare, we show that binary-single scatterings are a more effective formation channel than single-single captures for the production of eccentrically inspiraling binaries, even given modest binary fractions.