Kelly Holley-Bockelmann

Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States

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Publications (65)153.99 Total impact

  • Baile Li, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Fazeel Khan
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    ABSTRACT: It is known that two supermassive black holes (SMBHs) cannot merge in a spherical galaxy within a Hubble time; an emerging picture is that galaxy geometry, rotation, and large potential perturbations may usher the SMBH binary through the critical three-body scattering phase and ultimately drive the SMBH to coalesce. We explore the orbital content within an N-body model of a mildly- flattened, non-rotating, SMBH-embedded elliptical galaxy. When used as the foundation for a study on the SMBH binary coalescence, the black holes bypassed the binary stalling often seen within spherical galaxies and merged on Gyr timescales (Khan et al. 2013). Using both frequency-mapping and angular momentum criteria, we identify a wealth of resonant orbits in the axisymmetric model, including saucers, that are absent from an otherwise identical spherical system and that can potentially interact with the binary. We quantified the set of orbits that could be scattered by the SMBH binary, and found that the axisymmetric model contained nearly seven times the number of these potential loss cone orbits compared to our equivalent spherical model. In this flattened model, the mass of these orbits is roughly 3 times of that of the SMBH, which is consistent with what the SMBH binary needs to scatter to transition into the gravitational wave regime.
    12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The evolving Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) will revolutionize our understanding of the formation and evolution of massive black holes along cosmic history by probing massive black hole binaries in the $10^3-10^7$ solar mass range out to redshift $z\gtrsim 10$. High signal-to-noise ratio detections of $\sim 10-100$ binary coalescences per year will allow accurate measurements of the parameters of individual binaries (such as their masses, spins and luminosity distance), and a deep understanding of the underlying cosmic massive black hole parent population. This wealth of unprecedented information can lead to breakthroughs in many areas of physics, including astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics. We review the current status of the field, recent progress and future challenges.
    10/2014;
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    Fazeel Khan, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Peter Berczik
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    ABSTRACT: Although supermassive black holes (SMBHs) correlate well with their host galaxies, there is an emerging view that outliers exist. Henize 2-10, NGC 4889, and NGC1277 are examples of SMBHs at least an order of magnitude more massive than their host galaxy suggests. The dynamical effects of such ultramassive central black holes is unclear. Here, we perform direct N-body simulations of mergers of galactic nuclei where one black hole is ultramassive to study the evolution of the remnant and the black hole dynamics in this extreme regime. We find that the merger remnant is axisymmetric near the center, while near the large SMBH influence radius, the galaxy is triaxial. The SMBH separation shrinks rapidly due to dynamical friction, and quickly forms a binary black hole; if we scale our model to the most massive estimate for the NGC1277 black hole, for example, the timescale for the SMBH separation to shrink from nearly a kiloparsec to less than a parsec is roughly 10 Myr. By the time the SMBHs form a hard binary, gravitational wave emission dominates, and the black holes coalesce in a mere few Myr. Curiously, these extremely massive binaries appear to nearly bypass the 3-body scattering evolutionary phase. Our study suggests that in this extreme case, SMBH coalescence is governed by dynamical friction followed nearly directly by gravitational wave emission, resulting in an rapid and efficient SMBH coalescence timescale. We discuss the implications for gravitational wave event rates and hypervelocity star production.
    05/2014;
  • Meagan Lang, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Manodeep Sinha
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, both simulations and observations have revealed that flybys - fast, one-time interactions between two galaxy halos - are surprisingly common, nearing/comparable to galaxy mergers. Since these are rapid, transient events with the closest approach well outside the galaxy disk, it is unclear if flybys can transform the galaxy in a lasting way. We conduct collisionless N-body simulations of three co-planer flyby interactions between pure-disk galaxies to take a first look at the effects flybys have on disk structure, with particular focus on stellar bar formation. We find that some flybys are capable of inciting a bar with bars forming in both galaxies during our 1:1 interaction and in the secondary during our 10:1 interaction. The bars formed have ellipticities >0.5, sizes on the order of the host disk's scale length, and persist to the end of our simulations, ~5 Gyr after pericenter. The ability of flybys to incite bar formation implies that many processes associated with secular bar evolution may be more closely tied with interactions than previously though.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The relation of central black hole mass and stellar spheroid velocity dispersion (the M-$\sigma$ relation) is one of the best-known and tightest correlations linking black holes and their host galaxies. There has been much scrutiny concerning the difficulty of obtaining accurate black hole measurements, and rightly so; however, it has been taken for granted that measurements of velocity dispersion are essentially straightforward. We examine five disk galaxies from cosmological SPH simulations and find that line-of-sight effects due to galaxy orientation can affect the measured $\sigma$ by 30%, and consequently black hole mass predictions by up to 1.0 dex. Face-on orientations correspond to systematically lower velocity dispersion measurements, while more edge-on orientations give higher velocity dispersions, due to contamination by disk stars when measuring line of sight quantities. We caution observers that the uncertainty of velocity dispersion measurements is at least 20 km/s, and can be much larger for moderate inclinations. This effect may account for some of the scatter in the locally measured M-$\sigma$ relation, particularly at the low-mass end.
    05/2014; 445(3).
  • Meagan Lang, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Manodeep Sinha
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, both simulations and observations have revealed that flybys - fast, one-time interactions between two galaxy halos - are surprisingly common, nearing/comparable to galaxy mergers. Since these are rapid, transient events with the closest approach well outside the galaxy disk, it is unclear if flybys can transform the galaxy in a lasting way. We conduct collisionless N-body simulations of three co-planer flyby interactions between pure-disk galaxies to take a first look at the effects flybys have on disk structure, with particular focus on stellar bar formation. We find that some flybys are capable of inciting a bar with bars forming in both galaxies during our 1:1 interaction and in the secondary during our 10:1 interaction. The bars formed have ellipticities >0.5, sizes on the order of the host disk's scale length, and persist to the end of our simulations, ~5 Gyr after pericenter. The ability of flybys to incite bar formation implies that many processes associated with secular bar evolution may be more closely tied with interactions than previously though.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 04/2014; 790(2). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We measure the 3-D two-point correlation function statistic of G-dwarf stars in the Milky Way. The G-dwarf sample is constructed from SDSS SEGUE data by Schlesinger et al. (2012). We find that the shapes of the correlation functions along individual SEGUE lines of sight depend sensitively on both the stellar density gradients and the survey geometry. We compare these SEGUE measurements with mock measurements from smooth disk galaxy models to obtain strong constraints on the thin and thick disk components of the Milky Way.
    02/2014;
  • 01/2014; 782(1).
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    ABSTRACT: The scaling relation of central black hole mass and spheroid velocity dispersion (M-Sigma relation) is one of the best-known and tightest correlations regarding black holes and their host galaxies. There has been much scrutiny concerning the difficulty of obtaining accurate black hole measurements, and rightly so; however, it has been taken for granted that measurements of velocity dispersion are essentially straightforward. We examine five Milky Way-like disk galaxies from cosmological SPH simulations and find that line-of-sight effects due to galaxy orientation can affect the value of Sigma by up to 30%, and consequently black hole mass estimates by 0.6 - 1.0 dex. Face-on orientations correspond to systematically lower velocity dispersion measurements, while more edge-on orientations give higher velocity dispersions. This effect may account for some of the scatter in the locally measured M-Sigma relation.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We identify candidate hypervelocity stars from the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE) G and K dwarf samples. Previous searches for hypervelocity stars have only focused on large radial velocities; in this study we also use proper motions to select the candidates. We determine the hypervelocity likelihood of each candidate, considering the significant errors often associated with high proper motion stars via Monte Carlo simulations. Using the observed 6-d positions and velocities, we also calculate the orbits of these candidates in order to determine their place of origin within the Galaxy.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We identify 13 candidate hypervelocity stars from the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE) G and K dwarf samples. Previous searches for hypervelocity stars have only focused on large radial velocities; in this study we also use proper motions to select the candidates. We determine the hypervelocity likelihood of each candidate, considering the significant errors often associated with high proper motion stars via Monte Carlo simulations. We find that more than half of the candidates exceed their escape velocities with at least 90% probability. All of our candidates also have less than a 60% chance of being a high velocity fluke within the SEGUE sample. Based on orbits calculated using the observed 6-d positions and velocities, few, if any, of these candidates originate from the Galactic Center. If these candidates are truly hypervelocity stars, they were not ejected by interactions with the Milky Way's supermassive black hole. This calls for a more serious examination of alternative hypervelocity star ejection scenarios.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2013; 780(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    Fazeel Mahmood Khan, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann
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    ABSTRACT: During a galaxy merger, the supermassive black hole (SMBH) in each galaxy is thought to sink to the center of the potential and form a supermassive black hole binary; this binary can eject stars via 3-body scattering, bringing the SMBHs ever closer. In a static spherical galaxy model, the binary stalls at a separation of about a parsec after ejecting all the stars in its loss cone -- this is the well-known final parsec problem. Earlier work has shown that the centrophilic orbits in triaxial galaxy models are key in refilling the loss cone at a high enough rate to prevent the black holes from stalling. However, the evolution of binary SMBHs has never been explored in axisymmetric galaxies, so it is not clear if the final parsec problem persists in these systems. Here we use a suite of direct N-body simulations to follow SMBH binary evolution in galaxy models with a range of ellipticity. For the first time, we show that mere axisymmetry can solve the final parsec problem; we find the the SMBH evolution is independent of N for an axis ratio of c/a=0.8, and that the SMBH binary separation reaches the gravitational radiation regime for c/a=0.75.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2013; 773(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
  • Keivan Stassun, K. Holley-Bockelmann, A. A. Berlind
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    ABSTRACT: We briefly review the current status of underrepresented minorities in the physical sciences: The underrepresentation of Black-, Hispanic-, and Native-Americans is an order of magnitude problem. We then describe the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program as a successful model for effective partnerships with minority-serving institutions toward addressing this problem. Since 2004 the program has admitted 60 students, 54 of them underrepresented minorities (60% female), with a retention rate of 92%. The program leads the nation in master’s degrees in physics for African Americans, is one of the top ten producers of physics master’s degrees among all US citizens in general, and has become the nation’s top producer of underrepresented minority PhDs in physics, astronomy, and materials science. We summarize the main features of the program including two of its core strategies: (1) partnering a minority-serving institution and a major research university through collaborative research, and (2) using the master’s degree as a deliberate stepping stone to the PhD. We also specifically discuss one of the emerging core theories of the program: the concept of properly identifying students with 'unrealized or unrecognized potential'. We discuss our methods to recognize and select for unrealized potential during the admissions process, and how we cultivate that unrealized potential toward development of successful scientists and leaders.
    01/2013;
  • Benjamin Wibking, K. Holley-Bockelmann, A. A. Berlind
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    ABSTRACT: We are currently upgrading a version of Gadget2 (Springel et al., 2005) that is optimized for NVIDIA's CUDA GPU architecture (Frigaard, unpublished) to work with the latest libraries and graphics cards. Preliminary tests of its performance indicate a ~40x speedup in the particle force tree approximation calculation, with overall speedup of 5-10x for cosmological simulations run with GPUs compared to running on the same CPU cores without GPU acceleration. We believe this speedup can be reasonably increased by an additional factor of two with futher optimization, including overlap of computation on CPU and GPU. Tests of single-precision GPU numerical fidelity currently indicate accuracy of the mass function and the spectral power density to within a few percent of extended-precision CPU results with the unmodified form of Gadget. Additionally, we plan to test and optimize the GPU code for Millenium-scale "grand challenge" simulations of >10^9 particles, a scale that has been previously untested with this code, with the aid of the NSF XSEDE flagship GPU-based supercomputing cluster codenamed "Keeneland." Current work involves additional validation of numerical results, extending the numerical precision of the GPU calculations to double precision, and evaluating performance/accuracy tradeoffs. We believe that this project, if successful, will yield substantial computational performance benefits to the N-body research community as the next generation of GPU supercomputing resources becomes available, both increasing the electrical power efficiency of ever-larger computations (making simulations possible a decade from now at scales and resolutions unavailable today) and accelerating the pace of research in the field.
    01/2013;
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    Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, John H. Wise, Manodeep Sinha
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    ABSTRACT: We explore structure formation in the dark ages ($z\sim 30-6$) using two well-known methods for initializing cosmological $N$-body simulations. Overall, both the Zel'dovich approximation (\za) and second order Lagrangian perturbation theory (\lpt) are known to produce accurate present-day dark matter halo mass functions. However, since the \lpt method drives more rapid evolution of dense regions, it increases the occurrence of rare massive objects -- an effect that is most pronounced at high redshift. We find that \lpt produces more halos that could harbor Population III stars and their black hole remnants, and they produce them earlier. Although the differences between the \lpt and \za mass functions are nearly erased by $z=6$, this small boost to the number and mass of black holes more than doubles the reionized volume of the early Universe. We discuss the implications for reionization and massive black hole growth.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 11/2012; 761(1). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    Chris Mihos, Katie Keating, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, D. J. Pisano, Namir Kassim
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    ABSTRACT: We present a wide (8.5x6.7 degree, 1050x825 kpc), deep (sigma(N_HI)=10^(16.8-17.5) cm^-2) neutral hydrogen (HI) map of the M101 galaxy group. We identify two new HI sources in the group environment, one an extremely low surface brightness (and hitherto unknown) dwarf galaxy, and the other a starless HI cloud, possibly primordial in origin. Our data show that M101's extended HI envelope (Huchtmeier & Witzel 1979) takes the form of a ~100 kpc long tidal loop or plume of HI extending to the southwest of the galaxy. The plume has an HI mass ~ 10^8 Msun and a peak column density of N_HI=5x10^17 cm^-2, and while it rotates with the main body of M101, it shows kinematic peculiarities suggestive of a warp or flaring out of the rotation plane of the galaxy. We also find two new HI clouds near the plume with masses ~ 10^7 Msun, similar to HI clouds seen in the M81/M82 group, and likely also tidal in nature. Comparing to deep optical imaging of the M101 group, neither the plume nor the clouds have any extended optical counterparts down to a limiting surface brightness of mu_B = 29.5. We also trace HI at intermediate velocities between M101 and NGC 5474, strengthening the case for a recent interaction between the two galaxies. The kinematically complex HI structure in the M101 group, coupled with the optical morphology of M101 and its companions, suggests that the group is in a dynamically active state that is likely common for galaxies in group environments.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2012; 761(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
  • K. M. Chynoweth, K. Holley-Bockelmann, G. I. Langston, F. J. Lockman
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    ABSTRACT: We present GBT neutral hydrogen observations of two nearby galaxy groups. The M 81/M 82 and NGC 2403 groups represent opposite ends of the range in intensity of galaxy interactions, and have remarkably different properties in Hi. We have discovered 5 new Hi clouds in the highly interacting M 81/M 82 group of galaxies. Based on the velocity and angular distributions of these clouds, we conclude that they are relics of ongoing interactions between galaxies in the group. In contrast, the non-interacting NGC 2403 galaxy group shows no signs of Hi clouds or faint, extended Hi. We also detect a compact Hi cloud at v = -205 km s-1, which we believe to be part of HVC Complex A. Our observations suggest that the number density of Hi clouds in galaxy groups is strongly correlated with the level and age of ongoing galaxy interactions in the group.
    EAS Publications Series 09/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Tidal stripping and three-body interactions with the central supermassive black hole may eject stars from the Milky Way. These stars would comprise a set of 'intragroup' stars that trace the past history of interactions in our galactic neighborhood. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR7, we identify candidate solar-metallicity red giant intragroup stars using color cuts that are designed to exclude nearby M and L dwarfs. We present 677 intragroup candidates that are selected between 300 kpc and 2 Mpc, and are either the reddest intragroup candidates (M7-M10) or are L dwarfs at larger distances than previously detected.
    The Astronomical Journal 06/2012; 143(6). · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a comparative study of recent works on merger-timescales with dynamical friction and find a strong contrast between idealized/isolated mergers (Boylan-Kolchin et al. 2008) and mergers from a cosmological volume (Jiang et al. 2008). Our study measures the duration of mergers in a cosmological N-body simulation of dark matter, with emphasis on higher redshifts (z < 10) and a lower mass range. In our analysis we consider and compare two merger definitions; tidal disruption and coalescence. We find that the merger-time formula proposed by Jiang et al. (2008) describes our results well and conclude that cosmologically motivated merger-time formulae provide a more versatile and statistically robust approximation for practical applications such as semi-analytic/hybrid models.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2012; 424(1). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tidal stripping and three-body interactions with the central supermassive black hole may eject stars from the Milky Way. These stars would comprise a set of `intragroup' stars that trace the past history of interactions in our galactic neighborhood. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR7, we identify candidate solar metallicity red giant intragroup stars using color cuts that are designed to exclude nearby M and L dwarfs. We present 677 intragroup candidates that are selected between 300 kpc and 2 Mpc, and are either the reddest intragroup candidates (M7-M10) or are L dwarfs at larger distances than previously detected.
    02/2012;

Publication Stats

348 Citations
153.99 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • Fisk University
      Nashville, Tennessee, United States
  • 2007–2014
    • Vanderbilt University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Nashville, Michigan, United States
  • 2013
    • Government College University, Lahore
      • Department of Physics
      Lāhaur, Punjab, Pakistan
  • 2003–2008
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      University Park, Maryland, United States
  • 1999–2008
    • Case Western Reserve University
      • Department of Astronomy
      Cleveland, OH, United States
  • 1998–1999
    • University of Michigan
      • Department of Astronomy
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States