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    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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  3. Abstract

    With strong evidence of a common-spectrum stochastic process in the most recent data sets from the NANOGrav Collaboration, the European Pulsar Timing Array (PTA), Parkes PTA, and the International PTA, it is crucial to assess the effects of the several astrophysical and cosmological sources that could contribute to the stochastic gravitational wave background (GWB). Using the same data set creation and injection techniques as in Pol et al., we assess the separability of multiple GWBs by creating single and multiple GWB source data sets. We search for these injected sources using Bayesian PTA analysis techniques to assess recovery and separability of multiple astrophysical and cosmological backgrounds. For a GWB due to supermassive black hole binaries and an underlying weaker background due to primordial gravitational waves with a GW energy-density ratio of ΩPGWSMBHB= 0.5, the Bayes’ factor for a second process exceeds unity at 17 yr, and increases with additional data. At 20 yr of data, we are able to constrain the spectral index and amplitude of the weaker GWB at this density ratio to a fractional uncertainty of 64% and 110%, respectively, using current PTA methods and techniques. Using these methods and findings, we outline a basic protocol tomore »search for multiple backgrounds in future PTA data sets.

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  4. ABSTRACT Observations of massive galaxies at low redshift have revealed approximately linear scaling relations between the mass of a supermassive black hole (SMBH) and properties of its host galaxy. How these scaling relations evolve with redshift and whether they extend to lower-mass galaxies, however, remain open questions. Recent galaxy formation simulations predict a delayed, or ‘two-phase,’ growth of SMBHs: slow, highly intermittent BH growth due to repeated gas ejection by stellar feedback in low-mass galaxies, followed by more sustained gas accretion that eventually brings BHs on to the local scaling relations. The predicted two-phase growth implies a steep increase, or ‘kink,’ in BH-galaxy scaling relations at a stellar mass $\rm {M}_{*}\sim 5\times 10^{10}$ M⊙. We develop a parametric, semi-analytic model to compare different SMBH growth models against observations of the quasar luminosity function (QLF) at z ∼ 0.5−4. We compare models in which the relation between SMBH mass and galaxy mass is purely linear versus two-phase models. The models are anchored to the observed galaxy stellar mass function, and the BH mass functions at different redshifts are consistently connected by the accretion rates contributing to the QLF. The best fits suggest that two-phase evolution is significantly preferred by the QLFmore »data over a purely linear scaling relation. Moreover, when the model parameters are left free, the two-phase model fits imply a transition mass consistent with that predicted by simulations. Our analysis motivates further observational tests, including measurements of BH masses and active galactic nuclei activity at the low-mass end, which could more directly test two-phase SMBH growth.« less
  5. Abstract

    We present the stellar population properties of 69 short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies, representing the largest uniformly modeled sample to date. Using theProspectorstellar population inference code, we jointly fit photometry and/or spectroscopy of each host galaxy. We find a population median redshift ofz=0.640.32+0.83(68% confidence), including nine photometric redshifts atz≳ 1. We further find a median mass-weighted age oftm=0.80.53+2.71Gyr, stellar mass of log(M*/M) =9.690.65+0.75, star formation rate of SFR =1.441.35+9.37Myr−1, stellar metallicity of log(Z*/Z) =0.380.42+0.44, and dust attenuation ofAV=0.430.36+0.85mag (68% confidence). Overall, the majority of short GRB hosts are star-forming (≈84%), with small fractions that are either transitioning (≈6%) or quiescent (≈10%); however, we observe a much larger fraction (≈40%) of quiescent and transitioning hosts atz≲ 0.25, commensurate with galaxy evolution. We find that short GRB hosts populate the star-forming main sequence of normal field galaxies, but do not include as many high-mass galaxies as the general galaxy population, implying that their binary neutron star (BNS) merger progenitors are dependent on a combination of host star formation and stellar mass. The distribution of ages and redshifts implies a broad delay-time distribution,more »with a fast-merging channel atz> 1 and a decreased neutron star binary formation efficiency from high to low redshifts. If short GRB hosts are representative of BNS merger hosts within the horizon of current gravitational wave detectors, these results can inform future searches for electromagnetic counterparts. All of the data and modeling products are available on the Broadband Repository for Investigating Gamma-ray burst Host Traits website.

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  6. ABSTRACT Possible formation scenarios of supermassive black holes (BHs) in the early universe include rapid growth from less massive seed BHs via super-Eddington accretion or runaway mergers, yet both of these scenarios would require seed BHs to efficiently sink to and be trapped in the Galactic Centre via dynamical friction. This may not be true for their complicated dynamics in clumpy high-z galaxies. In this work, we study this ‘sinking problem’ with state-of-the-art high-resolution cosmological simulations, combined with both direct N-body integration of seed BH trajectories and post-processing of randomly generated test particles with a newly developed dynamical friction estimator. We find that seed BHs less massive than $10^8\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ (i.e. all but the already-supermassive seeds) cannot efficiently sink in typical high-z galaxies. We also discuss two possible solutions: dramatically increasing the number of seeds such that one seed can end up trapped in the Galactic Centre by chance, or seed BHs being embedded in dense structures (e.g. star clusters) with effective masses above the mass threshold. We discuss the limitations of both solutions.

    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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  8. 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
  9. ABSTRACT Massive black hole (MBH) binary inspiral time-scales are uncertain, and their spins are even more poorly constrained. Spin misalignment introduces asymmetry in the gravitational radiation, which imparts a recoil kick to the merged MBH. Understanding how MBH binary spins evolve is crucial for determining their recoil velocities, their gravitational wave (GW) waveforms detectable with Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and their retention rate in galaxies. Here, we introduce a sub-resolution model for gas- and gravitational wave (GW)-driven MBH binary spin evolution using accreting MBHs from the Illustris cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. We also model binary inspiral via dynamical friction, stellar scattering, viscous gas drag, and GW emission. Our model assumes that the circumbinary disc always removes angular momentum from the binary. It also assumes differential accretion, which causes greater alignment of the secondary MBH spin in unequal-mass mergers. We find that 47 per cent of the MBHs in our population merge by z = 0. Of these, 19 per cent have misaligned primaries and 10 per cent have misaligned secondaries at the time of merger in our fiducial model with initial eccentricity of 0.6 and accretion rates from Illustris. The MBH misalignment fraction depends strongly on the accretion disc parameters, however. Reducing accretion rates by a factor ofmore »100, in a thicker disc, yields 79 and 42 per cent misalignment for primaries and secondaries, respectively. Even in the more conservative fiducial model, more than 12 per cent of binaries experience recoils of >500 km s−1, which could displace them at least temporarily from galactic nuclei. We additionally find that a significant number of systems experience strong precession.« less