The effects of AGN feedback and SPH formulation on black hole growth in galaxies

MaoSheng Liu,  Tiziana Di Matteo, and Yu Feng

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
March 11, 2016

The authors perform simulations of isolated galaxies and major mergers to investigate the effects on black hole (BH) growth due to variations in active galactic nuclei (AGN) feedback models and different smooth particle hydrodynamic (SPH) solvers. In particular the authors examine density-SPH versus newer pressure-SPH formulation and their significance relative to minor changes in subgrid AGN feedback prescriptions. The aim is to use these idealized simulations to understand the impact of these effects for large cosmological volume simulations where these models are often adopted. In both isolated galaxies and galaxy mergers, the authors find that star formation histories are largely insensitive to the choice of SPH schemes whilst BH accretion rate can change. This can result in a factor of 2–3 difference in final BH mass for the two hydrodynamic formulations. However, the differences are much smaller than those obtained even with small changes in the subgrid AGN feedback prescription. In particular, depending on the size of the region and the manner in which the AGN energy is deposited, the star formation rate is suppressed by a factor of 2 in isolated galaxies and the star burst completely quenched during the coalescence of two galaxies. The final BH mass differs by over an order of magnitude by changes in AGN feedback model. Results indicated that any change in the hydrodynamic formulation is likely subdominant to the effects of changing subgrid physics around the BH, although thermodynamic state and morphology of the gas remnant are also sensitive to the change in hydrodynamic solver.

Featured Fellows

Yu Feng

Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics
BIDS Alum – Data Science Fellow