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  1. ABSTRACT

    We use FIRE simulations to study disc formation in z ∼ 0, Milky Way-mass galaxies, and conclude that a key ingredient for the formation of thin stellar discs is the ability for accreting gas to develop an aligned angular momentum distribution via internal cancellation prior to joining the galaxy. Among galaxies with a high fraction ($\gt 70{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of their young stars in a thin disc (h/R ∼ 0.1), we find that: (i) hot, virial-temperature gas dominates the inflowing gas mass on halo scales (≳20 kpc), with radiative losses offset by compression heating; (ii) this hot accretion proceeds until angular momentum support slows inward motion, at which point the gas cools to $\lesssim 10^4\, {\rm K}$; (iii) prior to cooling, the accreting gas develops an angular momentum distribution that is aligned with the galaxy disc, and while cooling transitions from a quasi-spherical spatial configuration to a more-flattened, disc-like configuration. We show that the existence of this ‘rotating cooling flow’ accretion mode is strongly correlated with the fraction of stars forming in a thin disc, using a sample of 17 z ∼ 0 galaxies spanning a halo mass range of 1010.5 M⊙ ≲ Mh ≲ 1012 M⊙ and stellarmore »mass range of 108 M⊙ ≲ M⋆ ≲ 1011 M⊙. Notably, galaxies with a thick disc or irregular morphology do not undergo significant angular momentum alignment of gas prior to accretion and show no correspondence between halo gas cooling and flattening. Our results suggest that rotating cooling flows (or, more generally, rotating subsonic flows) that become coherent and angular momentum-supported prior to accretion on to the galaxy are likely a necessary condition for the formation of thin, star-forming disc galaxies in a ΛCDM universe.

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  2. ABSTRACT

    The concurrent growth of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their host galaxies remains to be fully explored, especially at high redshift. While often understood as a consequence of self-regulation via AGN feedback, it can also be explained by alternative SMBH accretion models. Here, we expand on previous work by studying the growth of SMBHs with the help of a large suite of cosmological zoom-in simulations (MassiveFIRE) that are part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. The growth of SMBHs is modelled in post-processing with different black hole accretion models, placements, and merger treatments, and validated by comparing to on-the-fly calculations. Scaling relations predicted by the gravitational torque-driven accretion (GTDA) model agree with observations at low redshift without the need for AGN feedback, in contrast to models in which the accretion rate depends strongly on SMBH mass. At high redshift, we find deviations from the local scaling relations in line with previous theoretical results. In particular, SMBHs are undermassive, presumably due to stellar feedback, but start to grow efficiently once their host galaxies reach M* ∼ 1010M⊙. We analyse and explain these findings in the context of a simple analytic model. Finally, we show that the predicted scalingmore »relations depend sensitively on the SMBH location and the efficiency of SMBH merging, particularly in low-mass systems. These findings highlight the relevance of understanding the evolution of SMBH-galaxy scaling relations to predict the rate of gravitational wave signals from SMBH mergers across cosmic history.

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  3. ABSTRACT

    The James Webb Space Telescope will have the power to characterize high-redshift quasars at z ≥ 6 with an unprecedented depth and spatial resolution. While the brightest quasars at such redshift (i.e. with bolometric luminosity $L_{\rm bol}\geqslant 10^{46}\, \rm erg/s$) provide us with key information on the most extreme objects in the Universe, measuring the black hole (BH) mass and Eddington ratios of fainter quasars with $L_{\rm bol}= 10^{45}-10^{46}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$ opens a path to understand the build-up of more normal BHs at z ≥ 6. In this paper, we show that the Illustris, TNG100, TNG300, Horizon-AGN, EAGLE, and SIMBA large-scale cosmological simulations do not agree on whether BHs at z ≥ 4 are overmassive or undermassive at fixed galaxy stellar mass with respect to the MBH − M⋆ scaling relation at z = 0 (BH mass offsets). Our conclusions are unchanged when using the local scaling relation produced by each simulation or empirical relations. We find that the BH mass offsets of the simulated faint quasar population at z ≥ 4, unlike those of bright quasars, represent the BH mass offsets of the entire BH population, for all the simulations. Thus, a population of faint quasars withmore »$L_{\rm bol}= 10^{45}-10^{46}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$ observed by JWST can provide key constraints on the assembly of BHs at high redshift. Moreover, this will help constraining the high-redshift regime of cosmological simulations, including BH seeding, early growth, and co-evolution with the host galaxies. Our results also motivate the need for simulations of larger cosmological volumes down to z ∼ 6, with the same diversity of subgrid physics, in order to gain statistics on the most extreme objects at high redshift.

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  4. ABSTRACT

    Previous studies of fueling black holes in galactic nuclei have argued (on scales ${\sim}0.01{-}1000\,$pc) accretion is dynamical with inflow rates $\dot{M}\sim \eta \, M_{\rm gas}/t_{\rm dyn}$ in terms of gas mass Mgas, dynamical time tdyn, and some η. But these models generally neglected expulsion of gas by stellar feedback, or considered extremely high densities where expulsion is inefficient. Studies of star formation, however, have shown on sub-kpc scales the expulsion efficiency fwind = Mejected/Mtotal scales with the gravitational acceleration as $(1-f_{\rm wind})/f_{\rm wind}\sim \bar{a}_{\rm grav}/\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle \sim \Sigma _{\rm eff}/\Sigma _{\rm crit}$ where $\bar{a}_{\rm grav}\equiv G\, M_{\rm tot}(\lt r)/r^{2}$ and $\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle$ is the momentum injection rate from young stars. Adopting this as the simplest correction for stellar feedback, $\eta \rightarrow \eta \, (1-f_{\rm wind})$, we show this provides a more accurate description of simulations with stellar feedback at low densities. This has immediate consequences, predicting the slope and normalization of the MBH − σ and MBH − Mbulge relation, LAGN −SFR relations, and explanations for outliers in compact Es. Most strikingly, because star formation simulations show expulsion is efficient (fwind ∼ 1) below total-mass surface density $M_{\rm tot}/\pi \, r^{2}\lt \Sigma _{\rm crit}\sim 3\times 10^{9}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odotmore »}\, {\rm kpc^{-2}}$ (where $\Sigma _{\rm crit}=\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle /(\pi \, G)$), BH mass is predicted to specifically trace host galaxy properties above a critical surface brightness Σcrit (B-band $\mu _{\rm B}^{\rm crit}\sim 19\, {\rm mag\, arcsec^{-2}}$). This naturally explains why BH masses preferentially reflect bulge properties or central surface densities (e.g. $\Sigma _{1\, {\rm kpc}}$), not ‘total’ galaxy properties.

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  5. ABSTRACT Recent systematic searches for massive black holes (BHs) in local dwarf galaxies led to the discovery of a population of faint active galactic nuclei (AGNs). We investigate the agreement of the BH and AGN populations in the Illustris, TNG, Horizon-AGN, EAGLE, and SIMBA simulations with current observational constraints in low-mass galaxies. We find that some of these simulations produce BHs that are too massive, and that the BH occupation fraction (OF) at z = 0 is not inherited from the simulation seeding modelling. The ability of BHs and their host galaxies to power an AGN depends on BH and galaxy subgrid modelling. The fraction of AGN in low-mass galaxies is not used to calibrate the simulations, and thus can be used to differentiate galaxy formation models. AGN fractions at z = 0 span two orders of magnitude at fixed galaxy stellar mass in simulations, similarly to observational constraints, but uncertainties and degeneracies affect both observations and simulations. The agreement is difficult to interpret due to differences in the masses of simulated and observed BHs, BH OF affected by numerical choices, and an unknown fraction of obscured AGN. Our work advocates for more thorough comparisons with observations to improve the modelling ofmore »cosmological simulations, and our understanding of BH and galaxy physics in the low-mass regime. The mass of BHs, their ability to efficiently accrete gas, and the AGN fraction in low-mass galaxies have important implications for the build-up of the entire BH and galaxy populations with time.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2023
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  7. 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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 9, 2023
  8. ABSTRACT In large-scale hydrodynamical cosmological simulations, the fate of massive galaxies is mainly dictated by the modelling of feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The amount of energy released by AGN feedback is proportional to the mass that has been accreted on to the black holes (BHs), but the exact subgrid modelling of AGN feedback differs in all simulations. While modern simulations reliably produce populations of quiescent massive galaxies at z ≤ 2, it is also crucial to assess the similarities and differences of the responsible AGN populations. Here, we compare the AGN populations of the Illustris, TNG100, TNG300, Horizon-AGN, EAGLE, and SIMBA simulations. The AGN luminosity function (LF) varies significantly between simulations. Although in agreement with current observational constraints at z = 0, at higher redshift the agreement of the LFs deteriorates with most simulations producing too many AGNs of $L_{\rm x, 2\!-\!10 \, keV}\sim 10^{43\!-\!44}\, \rm erg\, s^{-1}$. AGN feedback in some simulations prevents the existence of any bright AGN with $L_{\rm x, 2\!-\!10 \, keV}\geqslant 10^{45}\rm \,erg\, s^{-1}$ (although this is sensitive to AGN variability), and leads to smaller fractions of AGN in massive galaxies than in the observations at z ≤ 2. We find that all themore »simulations fail at producing a number density of AGN in good agreement with observational constraints for both luminous ($L_{\rm x, 2\!-\!10 \, keV}\sim 10^\text{43-45}\, \rm erg\, s^{-1}$) and fainter ($L_{\rm x, 2\!-\!10 \, keV}\sim 10^\text{42-43}\, \rm erg\, s^{-1}$) AGNs and at both low and high redshifts. These differences can aid us in improving future BH and galaxy subgrid modelling in simulations. Upcoming X-ray missions (e.g. Athena, AXIS, and LynX) will bring faint AGNs to light and new powerful constraints. After accounting for AGN obscuration, we find that the predicted number density of detectable AGNs in future surveys spans at least one order of magnitude across the simulations, at any redshift.« less
  9. ABSTRACT Hydrodynamic simulations provide a powerful, but computationally expensive, approach to study the interplay of dark matter and baryons in cosmological structure formation. Here, we introduce the EMulating Baryonic EnRichment (EMBER) Deep Learning framework to predict baryon fields based on dark matter-only simulations thereby reducing computational cost. EMBER comprises two network architectures, U-Net and Wasserstein Generative Adversarial Networks (WGANs), to predict 2D gas and H i densities from dark matter fields. We design the conditional WGANs as stochastic emulators, such that multiple target fields can be sampled from the same dark matter input. For training we combine cosmological volume and zoom-in hydrodynamical simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project to represent a large range of scales. Our fiducial WGAN model reproduces the gas and H i power spectra within 10 per cent accuracy down to ∼10 kpc scales. Furthermore, we investigate the capability of EMBER to predict high resolution baryon fields from low resolution dark matter inputs through upsampling techniques. As a practical application, we use this methodology to emulate high-resolution H i maps for a dark matter simulation of a $L=100\, \text{Mpc}\, h^{ -1}$ comoving cosmological box. The gas content of dark matter haloes and the H i column density distributions predicted by EMBERmore »agree well with results of large volume cosmological simulations and abundance matching models. Our method provides a computationally efficient, stochastic emulator for augmenting dark matter only simulations with physically consistent maps of baryon fields.« less
  10. ABSTRACT The sensitivity of X-ray facilities and our ability to detect fainter active galactic nuclei (AGNs) will increase with the upcoming Athena mission and the AXIS and Lynx concept missions, thus improving our understanding of supermassive black holes (BHs) in a luminosity regime that can be dominated by X-ray binaries. We analyse the population of faint AGNs ($L_{\rm x, 2{-}10 \, keV}\leqslant 10^{42}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$) in the Illustris, TNG100, EAGLE, and SIMBA cosmological simulations, and find that the properties of their host galaxies vary from one simulation to another. In Illustris and EAGLE, faint AGNs are powered by low-mass BHs located in low-mass star-forming galaxies. In TNG100 and SIMBA, they are mostly associated with more massive BHs in quenched massive galaxies. We model the X-ray binary (XRB) populations of the simulated galaxies, and find that AGNs often dominate the galaxy AGN + XRB hard X-ray luminosity at z > 2, while XRBs dominate in some simulations at z < 2. Whether the AGN or XRB emission dominates in star-forming and quenched galaxies depends on the simulations. These differences in simulations can be used to discriminate between galaxy formation models with future high-resolution X-ray observations. We compare the luminosity ofmore »simulated faint AGN host galaxies to observations of stacked galaxies from Chandra. Our comparison indicates that the simulations post-processed with our X-ray modelling tend to overestimate the AGN + XRB X-ray luminosity; luminosity that can be strongly affected by AGN obscuration. Some simulations reveal clear AGN trends as a function of stellar mass (e.g. galaxy luminosity drop in massive galaxies), which are not apparent in the observations.« less