Journal Article

The building up of the black hole–stellar mass relation

A. Lamastra, N. Menci, R. Maiolino, F. Fiore and A. Merloni

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 405, issue 1, pages 29-40
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The building up of the black hole–stellar mass relation

Show Summary Details


We derive the growth of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) relative to the stellar content of their host galaxy predicted under the assumption of black hole (BH) accretion triggered by galaxy encounters occurring during their merging histories. The latter are described through Monte Carlo realizations, and are connected to gas processes, star formation and BH accretion using a semi-analytic model of galaxy formation in a cosmological framework. This allows us to connect the star formation process in the host galaxies to the growth of SMBHs. We show that, within this framework, the ratio Γ≡ (MBH/M*)(z)/(MBH/M*)(z= 0) between the BH mass and the galactic stellar mass (normalized to the local value) depends on both BH mass and redshift. While the average value and the spread of Γ(z) increase with z, such an effect is larger for massive BHs, reaching values Γ≈ 5 for massive BHs (M≥ 109 M) at z≳ 4, in agreement with recent observations of high-redshift quasi-stellar objects; this is due to the effectiveness of interactions in triggering BH accretion in high-density environments (where massive haloes form) at high redshifts.

To investigate how different observations of Γ(z) fit within our framework, we worked out specific predictions for subsamples of the simulated galaxies corresponding to the different observational samples for which measurements of Γ have been obtained. We found that for broad-line active galactic nuclei at intermediate redshifts 1 ≲z≲ 2 values of Γ≈ 2 are expected, with a mild trend towards larger value for increasing BH mass. Instead, when we select from our Monte Carlo simulations only extremely gas rich, rapidly star-forming galaxies at the epoch of peak in the cosmic star formation (2 ≤z≤ 3), we find low values 0.3 ≤Γ≤ 1.5, consistent with recent observational findings on samples of submillimitre galaxies; in the framework of our model, these objects end up at z= 0 in low-to-intermediate mass BHs (M≤ 109 M), and they do not represent typical paths leading to local massive galaxies. The latter have formed preferentially through paths (in the M*MBH plane) passing above the local M*MBH relation. We discuss how the global picture emerging from the model is consistent with a downsizing scenario, where massive BHs accrete a larger fraction of their final mass at high redshifts z≥ 4.

Keywords: galaxies: active; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation

Journal Article.  10396 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.