Revealing black holes with Gaia.
We estimate the population of black holes with luminous stellar companions (BH-LCs) in the Milky Way (MW) observable by Gaia. We evolve a realistic distribution of BH-LC progenitors from zero-age to the current epoch taking into account relevant physics, including binary stellar evolution, BH-formation physics, and star formation rate, to estimate the BH-LC population in the MW today. We predict that Gaia will discover between 3,800 and 12,000 BH-LCs by the end of its 5 yr mission, depending on BH natal kick strength and observability constraints. We find that the overall yield, and distributions of eccentricities and masses of observed BH-LCs can provide important constraints on the strength of BH natal kicks. Gaia-detected BH-LCs are expected to have very different orbital properties compared to those detectable via radio, X-ray, or gravitational wave observations.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1710.04657