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Exploring supermassive black hole physics and galaxy quenching across halo mass in FIRE cosmological zoom simulations

Wellons, Sarah and Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André and Hopkins, Philip F. and Quataert, Eliot and Anglés-Alcázar, Daniel and Feldmann, Robert and Hayward, Christopher C. and Kereš, Dušan and Su, Kung-Yi and Wetzel, Andrew (2022) Exploring supermassive black hole physics and galaxy quenching across halo mass in FIRE cosmological zoom simulations. . (Unpublished)

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Feedback from accreting supermassive black holes (SMBHs) is thought to be a primary driver of quenching in massive galaxies, but the best way to implement SMBH physics into galaxy formation simulations remains ambiguous. As part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project, we explore the effects of different modeling choices for SMBH accretion and feedback in a suite of ∼500 cosmological zoom-in simulations across a wide range of halo mass (10¹⁰-10¹³ M_⊙). Within the suite, we vary the numerical schemes for BH accretion and feedback, the accretion efficiency, and the strength of mechanical, radiative, and cosmic ray feedback independently. We then compare the outcomes to observed galaxy scaling relations. We find several models that satisfy the observational constraints, and for which the energetics in different feedback channels are physically plausible. Interestingly, cosmic rays accelerated by SMBHs play an important role in many successful models. However, it is non-trivial to reproduce scaling relations across halo mass, and many model variations produce qualitatively incorrect results regardless of parameter choices. The growth of stellar and BH mass are closely related: for example, over-massive BHs tend to over-quench galaxies. BH mass is most strongly affected by the choice of accretion efficiency in high-mass halos, but by feedback efficiency in low-mass halos. The amount of star formation suppression by SMBH feedback in low-mass halos is determined primarily by the time-integrated feedback energy. For massive galaxies, the "responsiveness" of a model (i.e. how quickly and powerfully the BH responds to gas available for accretion) is an additional important factor for quenching.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemGIZMO code ItemAdditional FIRE data
Wellons, Sarah0000-0002-3977-2724
Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André0000-0002-4900-6628
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Quataert, Eliot0000-0001-9185-5044
Anglés-Alcázar, Daniel0000-0001-5769-4945
Feldmann, Robert0000-0002-1109-1919
Hayward, Christopher C.0000-0003-4073-3236
Kereš, Dušan0000-0002-1666-7067
Su, Kung-Yi0000-0003-1598-0083
Wetzel, Andrew0000-0003-0603-8942
Additional Information:SW is supported by an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship under award AST-2001905. CAFG was supported by NSF through grants AST-1715216, AST-2108230, and CAREER award AST-1652522; by NASA through grant 17-ATP17-0067; by STScI through grant HST-AR-16124.001-A; and by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement through a Cottrell Scholar Award and a Scialog Award. EQ was supported in part by a Simons Investigator grant from the Simons Foundation and NSF AST grant 2107872. DAA was supported in part by NSF grants AST-2009687 and AST-2108944. RF acknowledges financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no 194814). DK was supported by NSF through grants AST-1715101 and AST-2108314. AW received support from: the NSF via CAREER award AST-2045928 and grant AST-2107772; NASA ATP grant 80NSSC20K0513; HST grants AR-15809 and GO-15902 from STScI. This work was performed in part at Aspen Center for Physics, which is supported by National Science Foundation grant PHY-1607611. The data used in this work were, in part, hosted on facilities supported by the Scientific Computing Core at the Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation. DATA AVAILABILITY. The data supporting the plots within this article are available on reasonable request to the corresponding author. A public version of the GIZMO code is available at∼phopkins/Site/GIZMO.html. Additional data including simulation snapshots, initial conditions, and derived data products are available at
Group:Astronomy Department, TAPIR
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics FellowshipAST-2001905
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Scialog Fellow of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)194814
Subject Keywords:galaxies: active – galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: quasars: general – galaxies: quasars: supermassive black holes – galaxies: star formation
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220816-222035623
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116339
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Aug 2022 17:43
Last Modified:17 Aug 2022 17:43

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