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The impact of angular momentum on black hole accretion rates in simulations of galaxy formation

Rosas-Guevara, Y.M.; Bower, R.G.; Schaye, J.; Furlong, M.; Frenk, C.S.; Booth, C.M.; Crain, R.A.; Dalla Vecchia, C.; Schaller, M.; Theuns, T.

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Y.M. Rosas-Guevara

R.G. Bower

J. Schaye

M. Furlong

C.M. Booth

R.A. Crain

C. Dalla Vecchia

M. Schaller


Feedback from energy liberated by gas accretion on to black holes (BHs) is an attractive mechanism to explain the exponential cut-off at the massive end of the galaxy stellar mass function. Most previous implementations of BH accretion in hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation have assumed that BHs grow at an accretion rate that is proportion to the Bondi rate. A major concern is that the Bondi accretion rate is inappropriate when the accreting material has significant angular momentum. We present an improved accretion model that takes into account the circularization and subsequent viscous transport of infalling material, and implemented as a ‘subgrid’ model in hydrodynamic simulations. The resulting accretion rates are generally low in low mass (≲ 1011.5 M⊙) haloes, but show outbursts of Eddington-limited accretion during galaxy mergers. During outbursts these objects strongly resemble quasars. In higher mass haloes, gas accretion peaks at ∼10 per cent of the Eddington rate, which is thought to be conducive to the formation of radio jets. The resulting accretion rate depends strongly on the effective pressure of the gas surrounding the BH, which in turn depends strongly on halo mass. This induces a sharp transition in the importance of BH feedback. In small haloes, the growth of galaxies is regulated by star formation and supernova feedback, but above a halo mass of 1011.5 M⊙, rapid BH growth leads to the suppression of star formation and reduced growth of stellar mass with increasing halo mass.


Rosas-Guevara, Y., Bower, R., Schaye, J., Furlong, M., Frenk, C., Booth, C., …Theuns, T. (2015). The impact of angular momentum on black hole accretion rates in simulations of galaxy formation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 454(1), 1038-1057.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 2, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2015
Publication Date Nov 21, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 19, 2016
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 454
Issue 1
Pages 1038-1057
Keywords Black hole physics, Methods: numerical, Galaxies: active, Galaxies: evolution, Galaxies: formation, Quasars: general.


Published Journal Article (4.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
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 the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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