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Title: Stellar feedback-regulated black hole growth: driving factors from nuclear to halo scales

Several recent simulations of galaxy formation predict two main phases of supermassive black hole (BH) accretion: an early, highly intermittent phase (during which BHs are undermassive relative to local scaling relations), followed by a phase of accelerated growth. We investigate physical factors that drive the transition in BH accretion in cosmological zoom-in simulations from the FIRE project, ranging from dwarf galaxies to galaxies sufficiently massive to host luminous quasars. The simulations model multichannel stellar feedback, but neglect AGN feedback. We show that multiple physical properties, including halo mass, galaxy stellar mass, and depth of the central gravitational potential correlate with accelerated BH fuelling: constant thresholds in these properties are typically crossed within ∼0.1 Hubble time of accelerated BH fuelling. Black hole masses increase sharply when the stellar surface density in the inner 1 kpc crosses a threshold $\Sigma^\star _{1\,\rm kpc}\approx 10^{9.5} \, {\rm M_{\odot }}\,{\rm kpc}^{-2}$, a characteristic value above which gravity prevents stellar feedback from ejecting gas, and similar to the value above which galaxies are observed to quench. We further show that accelerated BH growth correlates with the emergence of long-lived thin gas discs, as well as with virialization of the inner circumgalactic medium. The halo mass Mhalo more » ∼ 1012 M⊙ and stellar mass M* ∼ 1010.5 M⊙ at which BH growth accelerates correspond to ∼L⋆ galaxies. The fact that stellar feedback becomes inefficient at ejecting gas from the nucleus above this mass scale may play an important role in explaining why AGN feedback appears to be most important in galaxies above L⋆.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 722-739
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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