Intermediate mass black holes from stellar mergers in young star clusters

Intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs) in the mass range 102105M bridge the gap between stellar black holes (BHs) and supermassive BHs. Here, we investigate the possibility that IMBHs form in young star clusters via runaway collisions and BH mergers. We analyze 104 simulations of dense young star clusters, featuring up-to-date stellar wind models and prescriptions for core collapse and (pulsational) pair instability. In our simulations, only 9 IMBHs out of 218 form via binary BH mergers, with a mass 100140 M. This channel is strongly suppressed by the low escape velocity of our star clusters. In contrast, IMBHs with masses up to 438 M efficiently form via runaway stellar collisions, especially at low metallicity. Up to 0.2~% of all the simulated BHs are IMBHs, depending on progenitor’s metallicity. The runaway formation channel is strongly suppressed in metal-rich (Z=0.02) star clusters, because of stellar winds. IMBHs are extremely efficient in pairing with other BHs: 70% of them are members of a binary BH at the end of the simulations. However, we do not find any IMBH-BH merger. More massive star clusters are more efficient in forming IMBHs: 8% (1%) of the simulated clusters with initial mass 1043×104 M (1035×103 M) host at least one IMBH.