Journal Article

Modelling the cosmological co-evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies – II. The clustering of quasars and their dark environment

Silvia Bonoli, Federico Marulli, Volker Springel, Simon D. M. White, Enzo Branchini and Lauro Moscardini

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 1, pages 423-438
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14701.x
Modelling the cosmological co-evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies – II. The clustering of quasars and their dark environment

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We use semi-analytic modelling on top of the Millennium simulation to study the joint formation of galaxies and their embedded supermassive black holes. Our goal is to test scenarios in which black hole accretion and quasar activity are triggered by galaxy mergers, and to constrain different models for the light curves associated with individual quasar events. In the present work, we focus on studying the spatial distribution of simulated quasars. At all luminosities, we find that the simulated quasar two-point correlation function is fit well by a single power law in the range 0.5 ≲r≲ 20 h−1 Mpc, but its normalization is a strong function of redshift. When we select only quasars with luminosities within the range typically accessible by today's quasar surveys, their clustering strength depends only weakly on luminosity, in agreement with observations. This holds independently of the assumed light-curve model, since bright quasars are black holes accreting close to the Eddington limit, and are hosted by dark matter haloes with a narrow mass range of a few 1012 h−1 M. Therefore, the clustering of bright quasars cannot be used to disentangle light-curve models, but such a discrimination would become possible if the observational samples can be pushed to significantly fainter limits. Overall, our clustering results for the simulated quasar population agree rather well with observations, lending support to the conjecture that galaxy mergers could be the main physical process responsible for triggering black hole accretion and quasar activity.

Keywords: galaxies: active; galaxies: formation; quasars: general; cosmology: observations; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  12068 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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