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Growth and activity of black holes in galaxy mergers with varying mass ratios


Capelo, Pedro R; Volonteri, Marta; Dotti, Massimo; Bellovary, Jillian M; Mayer, Lucio; Governato, Fabio (2015). Growth and activity of black holes in galaxy mergers with varying mass ratios. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 447(3):2123-2143.

Abstract

We study supermassive black holes (BHs) in merging galaxies, using a suite of hydrodynamical simulations with very high spatial (˜10 pc) and temporal (˜1 Myr) resolution, where we vary the initial mass ratio, the orbital configuration, and the gas fraction. (i) We address the question of when and why, during a merger, increased BH accretion occurs, quantifying gas inflows and BH accretion rates. (ii) We also quantify the relative effectiveness in inducing active galactic nuclei activity of merger-related versus secular-related causes, by studying different stages of the encounter: the stochastic (or early) stage, the (proper) merger stage, and the remnant (or late) stage. (iii) We assess which galaxy mergers preferentially enhance BH accretion, finding that the initial mass ratio is the most important factor. (iv) We study the evolution of the BH masses, finding that the BH mass contrast tends to decrease in minor mergers and to increase in major mergers. This effect hints at the existence of a preferential range of mass ratios for BHs in the final pairing stages. (v) In both merging and dynamically quiescent galaxies, the gas accreted by the BH is not necessarily the gas with low angular momentum, but the gas that loses angular momentum.

Abstract

We study supermassive black holes (BHs) in merging galaxies, using a suite of hydrodynamical simulations with very high spatial (˜10 pc) and temporal (˜1 Myr) resolution, where we vary the initial mass ratio, the orbital configuration, and the gas fraction. (i) We address the question of when and why, during a merger, increased BH accretion occurs, quantifying gas inflows and BH accretion rates. (ii) We also quantify the relative effectiveness in inducing active galactic nuclei activity of merger-related versus secular-related causes, by studying different stages of the encounter: the stochastic (or early) stage, the (proper) merger stage, and the remnant (or late) stage. (iii) We assess which galaxy mergers preferentially enhance BH accretion, finding that the initial mass ratio is the most important factor. (iv) We study the evolution of the BH masses, finding that the BH mass contrast tends to decrease in minor mergers and to increase in major mergers. This effect hints at the existence of a preferential range of mass ratios for BHs in the final pairing stages. (v) In both merging and dynamically quiescent galaxies, the gas accreted by the BH is not necessarily the gas with low angular momentum, but the gas that loses angular momentum.

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15 citations in Web of Science®
16 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:March 2015
Deposited On:22 Feb 2016 14:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:05
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0035-8711
Additional Information:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stu2500
Other Identification Number:arXiv:1409.0004v2

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