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Constraints on black hole fuelling modes from the clustering of X-ray AGN

Fanidakis, N.; Georgakakis, A.; Mountrichas, G.; Krumpe, M.; Baugh, C.M.; Lacey, C.G.; Frenk, C.S.; Miyaji, T.; Benson, A.J.

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N. Fanidakis

A. Georgakakis

G. Mountrichas

M. Krumpe

C.S. Frenk

T. Miyaji

A.J. Benson


We present a clustering analysis of X-ray selected active galactic nuclei (AGN) by compiling X-ray samples from the literature and re-estimating the dark-matter (DM) halo masses of AGN in a uniform manner. We find that moderate-luminosity AGN (L2–10 keV ≃ 1042–1044 erg s−1) in the z ≃ 0–1.3 Universe are typically found in DM haloes with masses of ∼1013 M⊙. We then compare our findings to the theoretical predictions of the coupled galaxy and black hole formation model GALFORM. We find good agreement when our calculation includes the hot-halo mode of accretion on to the central black hole. This type of accretion, which is additional to the common cold accretion during disc instabilities and galaxy mergers, is tightly coupled to the AGN feedback in the model. The hot-halo mode becomes prominent in DM haloes with masses greater than ∼1012.5 M⊙, where AGN feedback typically operates, giving rise to a distinct class of moderate-luminosity AGN that inhabit rich clusters and superclusters. Cold gas fuelling of the black hole cannot produce the observationally inferred DM halo masses of X-ray AGN. Switching off AGN feedback in the model results in a large population of luminous quasars (L2–10 keV > 1044 erg s−1) in DM haloes with masses up to ∼1014 M⊙, which is inconsistent with the observed clustering of quasars. The abundance of hot-halo AGN decreases significantly in the z ≃ 3–4 universe. At such high redshifts, the cold accretion mode is solely responsible for shaping the environment of moderate-luminosity AGN. Our analysis supports two accretion modes (cold and hot) for the fuelling of supermassive black holes and strongly underlines the importance of AGN feedback in cosmological models both of galaxy formation and black hole growth.


Fanidakis, N., Georgakakis, A., Mountrichas, G., Krumpe, M., Baugh, C., Lacey, C., …Benson, A. (2013). Constraints on black hole fuelling modes from the clustering of X-ray AGN. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 435(1), 679-688.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2013
Deposit Date May 16, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 30, 2014
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 435
Issue 1
Pages 679-688
Keywords Galaxies: haloes, Galaxies: nuclei, Quasars: general, Cosmology: theory, Dark matter, Cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe.


Published Journal Article (587 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2013 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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