Journal Article

The evolution of radio-loud active galactic nuclei as a function of black hole spin

D. Garofalo, D. A. Evans and R. M. Sambruna

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 2, pages 975-986
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The evolution of radio-loud active galactic nuclei as a function of black hole spin

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Recent work on the engines of active galactic nuclei jets suggests that their power depends strongly and perhaps counter-intuitively on black hole spin. We explore the consequences of this on the radio-loud population of active galactic nuclei and find that the time evolution of the most powerful radio galaxies and radio-loud quasars fits into a picture in which black hole spin varies from retrograde to prograde with respect to the accreting material. Unlike the current view, according to which jet powers decrease in tandem with a global downsizing effect, we argue for a drop in jet power resulting directly from the paucity of retrograde accretion systems at lower redshift z caused by a continuous history of accretion dating back to higher z. In addition, the model provides simple interpretations for the basic spectral features differentiating radio-loud and radio-quiet objects, such as the presence or absence of disc reflection, broadened iron lines and signatures of disc winds. We also briefly describe our models' interpretation of microquasar state transitions. We highlight our result that the most radio-loud and most radio-quiet objects both harbour highly spinning black holes but in retrograde and prograde configurations, respectively.

Keywords: Black hole physics; galaxies: active; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: jets

Journal Article.  9395 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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