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  1. Abstract We carry out a comparative analysis of the relation between the mass of supermassive black holes (BHs) and the stellar mass of their host galaxies at 0.2 < z < 1.7 using well-matched observations and multiple state-of-the-art simulations (e.g., MassiveBlackII, Horizon-AGN, Illustris, TNG, and a semianalytic model). The observed sample consists of 646 uniformly selected Sloan Digital Sky Survey quasars (0.2 < z < 0.8) and 32 broad-line active galactic nuclei (AGNs; 1.2 < z < 1.7) with imaging from Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) for the former and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) for the latter. We first add realistic observational uncertainties to the simulation data and then construct a simulated sample in the same manner as the observations. Over the full redshift range, our analysis demonstrates that all simulations predict a level of intrinsic scatter of the scaling relations comparable to the observations that appear to agree with the dispersion of the local relation. Regarding the mean relation, Horizon-AGN and TNG are in closest agreement with the observations at low and high redshift ( z ∼ 0.2 and 1.5, respectively), while the other simulations show subtle differences within the uncertainties. For insight into the physics involved, the scatter of themore »scaling relation, seen in the SAM, is reduced by a factor of two and closer to the observations after adopting a new feedback model that considers the geometry of the AGN outflow. The consistency in the dispersion with redshift in our analysis supports the importance of both quasar- and radio-mode feedback prescriptions in the simulations. Finally, we highlight the importance of increasing the sensitivity (e.g., using the James Webb Space Telescope), thereby pushing to lower masses and minimizing biases due to selection effects.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023

    We study gas inflows on to supermassive black holes using hydrodynamics simulations of isolated galaxies and idealized galaxy mergers with an explicit, multiphase interstellar medium (ISM). Our simulations use the recently developed ISM and stellar evolution model called Stars and MUltiphase Gas in GaLaxiEs (SMUGGLE). We implement a novel super-Lagrangian refinement scheme that increases the gas mass resolution in the immediate neighbourhood of the black holes (BHs) to accurately resolve gas accretion. We do not include black hole feedback in our simulations. We find that the complex and turbulent nature of the SMUGGLE ISM leads to highly variable BH accretion. BH growth in SMUGGLE converges at gas mass resolutions ≲3 × 103 M⊙. We show that the low resolution simulations combined with the super-Lagrangian refinement scheme are able to produce central gas dynamics and BH accretion rates very similar to that of the uniform high resolution simulations. We further explore BH fueling by simulating galaxy mergers. The interaction between the galaxies causes an inflow of gas towards the galactic centres and results in elevated and bursty star formation. The peak gas densities near the BHs increase by orders of magnitude resulting in enhanced accretion. Our results support the idea that galaxy mergersmore »can trigger AGN activity, although the instantaneous accretion rate depends strongly on the local ISM. We also show that the level of merger-induced enhancement of BH fueling predicted by the SMUGGLE model is much smaller compared to the predictions by simulations using an effective equation of state model of the ISM.

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    We explore implications of a range of black hole (BH) seeding prescriptions on the formation of the brightest $z$ ≳ 6 quasars in cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. The underlying galaxy formation model is the same as in the IllustrisTNG simulations. Using constrained initial conditions, we study the growth of BHs in rare overdense regions (forming $\gtrsim 10^{12}\, {\rm M}_{\odot }\,h^{-1}$ haloes by $z$ = 7) using a  (9 Mpc h−1)3 simulated volume. BH growth is maximal within haloes that are compact and have a low tidal field. For these haloes, we consider an array of gas-based seeding prescriptions wherein $M_{\mathrm{seed}}=10^4\!-\!10^6\, {\rm M}_{\odot }\,h^{-1}$ seeds are inserted in haloes above critical thresholds for halo mass and dense, metal-poor gas mass (defined as $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{h}}$ and $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}$, respectively, in units of Mseed). We find that a seed model with $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}=5$ and $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{h}}=3000$ successfully produces a $z$ ∼ 6 quasar with $\sim 10^9\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ mass and ∼1047 erg s−1 luminosity. BH mergers play a crucial role at $z$ ≳ 9, causing an early boost in BH mass at a time when accretion-driven BH growth is negligible. With more stringent seeding conditions (e.g. $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}=1000$), the relative paucity of BH seeds results in a much lower merger rate. In this case, $z$more »≳ 6 quasars can only be formed if we enhance the maximum allowed BH accretion rates (by factors ≳10) compared to the accretion model used in IllustrisTNG. This can be achieved either by allowing for super-Eddington accretion, or by reducing the radiative efficiency. Our results demonstrate that progenitors of $z$ ∼ 6 quasars have distinct BH merger histories for different seeding models, which will be distinguishable with Laser Interferometer Space Antenna observations.

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    A population of supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries is expected to generate a stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) in the pulsar timing array (PTA) frequency range of 10−9 to $10^{-7}\, {\rm Hz}$. Detection of this signal is a current observational goal and so predictions of its characteristics are of significant interest. In this work, we use SMBH binary mergers from the MassiveBlackII simulation to estimate the characteristic strain of the stochastic background. We examine both a gravitational wave (GW) driven model of binary evolution and a model which also includes the effects of stellar scattering and a circumbinary gas disc. Results are consistent with PTA upper limits and similar to estimates in the literature. The characteristic strain at a reference frequency of $1\, {\rm yr}^{-1}$ is found to be $A_{\rm {yr}^{-1}}= 6.9 \times 10^{-16}$ and $A_{\rm {yr}^{-1}}= 6.4 \times 10^{-16}$ in the GW-driven and stellar scattering/gas disc cases, respectively. Using the latter approach, our models show that the SGWB is mildly suppressed compared to the purely GW-driven model as frequency decreases inside the PTA frequency band.


    Direct collapse black holes (BHs) are promising candidates for producing massive z ≳ 6 quasars, but their formation requires fine-tuned conditions. In this work, we use cosmological zoom simulations to study systematically the impact of requiring: (1) low gas angular momentum (spin), and (2) a minimum incident Lyman–Werner (LW) flux in order to form BH seeds. We probe the formation of seeds (with initial masses of $M_{\rm seed} \sim 10^4\!-\!10^6\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1})$ in haloes with a total mass >3000 × Mseed and a dense, metal-poor gas mass >5 × Mseed. Within this framework, we find that the seed-forming haloes have a prior history of star formation and metal enrichment, but they also contain pockets of dense, metal-poor gas. When seeding is further restricted to haloes with low gas spins, the number of seeds formed is suppressed by factors of ∼6 compared to the baseline model, regardless of the seed mass. Seed formation is much more strongly impacted if the dense, metal-poor gas is required to have a critical LW flux (Jcrit). Even for Jcrit values as low as 50J21, no $8\times 10^{5}~\mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1}$ seeds are formed. While lower mass ($1.25\times 10^{4},1\times 10^{5}~\mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1}$) seeds do form, they are strongly suppressed (by factors of ∼10–100) comparedmore »to the baseline model at gas mass resolutions of $\sim 10^4~\mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1}$ (with even stronger suppression at higher resolutions). As a result, BH merger rates are also similarly suppressed. Since early BH growth is dominated by mergers in our models, none of the seeds are able to grow to the supermassive regime ($\gtrsim 10^6~\mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1}$) by z = 7. Our results hint that producing the bulk of the z ≳ 6 supermassive BH population may require alternate seeding scenarios that do not depend on the LW flux, early BH growth dominated by rapid or super-Eddington accretion, or a combination of these possibilities.

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  6. Abstract Deciphering the formation of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) is a key science goal for upcoming observational facilities. In many theoretical channels proposed so far, the seed formation depends crucially on local gas conditions. We systematically characterize the impact of a range of gas-based black hole seeding prescriptions on SMBH populations using cosmological simulations. Seeds of mass Mseed ∼ 103–106 M⊙ h−1 are placed in haloes that exceed critical thresholds for star-forming, metal-poor gas mass and halo mass (defined as $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}$ and $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{h}}$, respectively, in units of Mseed). We quantify the impact of these parameters on the properties of z ≥ 7 SMBHs. Lower seed masses produce higher black hole merger rates (by factors of ∼10 and ∼1000 at z ∼ 7 and z ∼ 15, respectively). For fixed seed mass, we find that $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{h}}$ has the strongest impact on the black hole population at high redshift (z ≳ 15, where a factor of 10 increase in $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{h}}$ suppresses merger rates by ≳ 100). At lower redshift (z ≲ 15), we find that $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}$ has a larger impact on the black hole population. Increasing $\tilde{M}_{\mathrm{sf,mp}}$ from 5–150 suppresses the merger rates by factors of ∼8 at z ∼ 7–15. This suggests that themore »seeding criteria explored here could leave distinct imprints on LISA merger rates. In contrast, AGN luminosity functions are much less sensitive to seeding criteria, varying by factors ≲ 2 − 3 within our models. Such variations will be challenging to probe even with future sensitive instruments such as Lynx or JWST. Our study provides a useful benchmark for development of seed models for large-volume cosmological simulations.« less
  7. ABSTRACT We investigate the redshift evolution of the intrinsic alignments (IAs) of galaxies in the MassiveBlackII (MBII) simulation. We select galaxy samples above fixed subhalo mass cuts ($M_h\gt 10^{11,12,13}\,\mathrm{M}_{\odot }\, h^{-1}$) at z = 0.6 and trace their progenitors to z = 3 along their merger trees. Dark matter components of z = 0.6 galaxies are more spherical than their progenitors while stellar matter components tend to be less spherical than their progenitors. The distribution of the galaxy–subhalo misalignment angle peaks at ∼10 deg with a mild increase with time. The evolution of the ellipticity–direction (ED) correlation amplitude ω(r) of galaxies (which quantifies the tendency of galaxies to preferentially point towards surrounding matter overdensities) is governed by the evolution in the alignment of underlying dark matter (DM) subhaloes to the matter density of field, as well as the alignment between galaxies and their DM subhaloes. At scales $\sim 1~\mathrm{Mpc}\, h^{-1}$, the alignment between DM subhaloes and matter overdensity gets suppressed with time, whereas the alignment between galaxies and DM subhaloes is enhanced. These competing tendencies lead to a complex redshift evolution of ω(r) for galaxies at $\sim 1~\mathrm{Mpc}\, h^{-1}$. At scales $\gt 1~\mathrm{Mpc}\, h^{-1}$, alignment between DM subhaloes and matter overdensity does not evolve significantly; the evolutionmore »of the galaxy–subhalo misalignment therefore leads to an increase in ω(r) for galaxies by a factor of ∼4 from z = 3 to 0.6 at scales $\gt 1~\mathrm{Mpc}\, h^{-1}$. The balance between competing physical effects is scale dependent, leading to different conclusions at much smaller scales ($\sim 0.1~\mathrm{Mpc}\, h^{-1}$).« less