Journal Article

High-redshift galaxies, their active nuclei and central black holes

Martin G. Haehnelt, Priyamvada Natarajan and Martin J. Rees

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 300, issue 3, pages 817-827
Published in print November 1998 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
High-redshift galaxies, their active nuclei and central black holes

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We demonstrate that the luminosity function of the recently detected population of actively star-forming galaxies at redshift z = 3 and the B-band luminosity function of quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) at the same redshift can both be matched with the mass function of dark matter haloes predicted by standard variants of hierarchical cosmogonies for lifetimes of optically bright QSOs anywhere in the range 106 to 108 yr. There is a strong correlation between the lifetime and the required degree of non-linearity in the relation between black hole and halo mass. We suggest that the mass of supermassive black holes may be limited by the back-reaction of the emitted energy on the accretion flow in a self-gravitating disc. This would imply a relation of black hole to halo mass of the form and a typical duration of the optically bright QSO phase of a few times 107 yr. The high integrated mass density of black holes inferred from recent black hole mass estimates in nearby galaxies may indicate that the overall efficiency of supermassive black holes for producing blue light is smaller than previously assumed. We discuss three possible accretion modes with low optical emission efficiency: (i) accretion at far above the Eddington rate, (ii) accretion obscured by dust, and (iii) accretion below the critical rate leading to an advection-dominated accretion flow lasting for a Hubble time. We further argue that accretion with low optical efficiency might be closely related to the origin of the hard X-ray background and that the ionizing background might be progressively dominated by stars rather than QSOs at higher redshift.

Keywords: black hole physics; galaxies: formation; galaxies: nuclei; quasars: general

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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