Astrophysicist

Category: active galactic nucleus feedback

Truong et al. (2020)

X-ray signatures of black hole feedback: hot galactic atmospheres in IllustrisTNG and X-ray observations

by
Truong, Nhut; Pillepich, Annalisa; Werner, Norbert; Nelson, Dylan; Lakhchaura, Kiran; Weinberger, Rainer; Springel, Volker; Vogelsberger, Mark; Hernquist, Lars

abstract
Hot gaseous atmospheres that permeate galaxies and extend far beyond their stellar distribution, where they are commonly referred to as the circumgalactic medium, imprint important information about feedback processes powered by the stellar populations of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes (SMBHs). In this work, we study the properties of this hot X-ray emitting medium using the IllustrisTNG cosmological simulations. We analyse their mock X-ray spectra, obtained from the diffuse and metal-enriched gas in TNG100 and TNG50, and compare the results with X-ray observations of nearby early-type galaxies. The simulations reproduce the observed X-ray luminosities (LX) and temperature (TX) at small (<Re) and intermediate (<5Re) radii reasonably well. We find that the X-ray properties of lower mass galaxies depend on their star formation rates. In particular, in the magnitude range where the star-forming and quenched populations overlap, we find that the X-ray luminosities of star-forming galaxies are on average about an order of magnitude higher than those of their quenched counterparts. We show that this diversity in LX is a direct manifestation of the quenching mechanism in the simulations, where the galaxies are quenched due to gas expulsion driven by SMBH kinetic feedback. The observed dichotomy in LX is thus an important observable prediction for the SMBH feedback-based quenching mechanisms implemented in state-of-the-art cosmological simulations. While the current X-ray observations of star-forming galaxies are broadly consistent with the predictions of the simulations, the observed samples are small and more decisive tests are expected from the sensitive all-sky X-ray survey with eROSITA.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 494, Issue 1, pp.549-570, March 2020

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Nelson et al. (2019)

First results from the TNG50 simulation: galactic outflows driven by supernovae and black hole feedback

by
Nelson, Dylan; Pillepich, Annalisa; Springel, Volker; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Weinberger, Rainer; Genel, Shy; Torrey, Paul; Vogelsberger, Mark; Marinacci, Federico; Hernquist, Lars

abstract
We present the new TNG50 cosmological, magnetohydrodynamical simulation – the third and final volume of the IllustrisTNG project. This simulation occupies a unique combination of large volume and high resolution, with a 50 Mpc box sampled by 21603 gas cells (baryon mass of 8 × 104 M). The median spatial resolution of star-forming interstellar medium gas is ∼100-140 pc. This resolution approaches or exceeds that of modern `zoom’ simulations of individual massive galaxies, while the volume contains ∼20 000 resolved galaxies with M_\star ≳ 10^7 M. Herein we show first results from TNG50, focusing on galactic outflows driven by supernovae as well as supermassive black hole feedback. We find that the outflow mass loading is a non-monotonic function of galaxy stellar mass, turning over and rising rapidly above 1010.5 M due to the action of the central black hole (BH). The outflow velocity increases with stellar mass, and at fixed mass it is faster at higher redshift. The TNG model can produce high-velocity, multiphase outflows that include cool, dense components. These outflows reach speeds in excess of 3000 km s-1 out to 20 kpc with an ejective, BH-driven origin. Critically, we show how the relative simplicity of model inputs (and scalings) at the injection scale produces complex behaviour at galactic and halo scales. For example, despite isotropic wind launching, outflows exhibit natural collimation and an emergent bipolarity. Furthermore, galaxies above the star-forming main sequence drive faster outflows, although this correlation inverts at high mass with the onset of quenching, whereby low-luminosity, slowly accreting, massive BHs drive the strongest outflows.

published in

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 490, Issue 3, p.3234-3261, December 2019

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Habouzit et al. (2019)

Linking galaxy structural properties and star formation activity to black hole activity with IllustrisTNG

by
Habouzit, Mélanie; Genel, Shy; Somerville, Rachel S.; Kocevski, Dale; Hirschmann, Michaela; Dekel, Avishai; Choi, Ena; Nelson, Dylan; Pillepich, Annalisa; Torrey, Paul; Hernquist, Lars; Vogelsberger, Mark; Weinberger, Rainer; Springel, Volker

abstract
We study the connection between active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their host galaxies through cosmic time in the large-scale cosmological IllustrisTNG simulations. We first compare BH properties, i.e. the hard X-ray BH luminosity function, AGN galaxy occupation fraction, and distribution of Eddington ratios, to available observational constraints. The simulations produce a population of BHs in good agreement with observations, but we note an excess of faint AGN in hard X-ray (L_x̃ 10^{43-44} erg/s), and a lower number of bright AGN (L_x\gt 10^{44} erg/s), a conclusion that varies quantitatively but not qualitatively with BH luminosity estimation method. The lower Eddington ratios of the 109 M_{\odot } BHs compared to observations suggest that AGN feedback may be too efficient in this regime. We study galaxy star formation activity and structural properties, and design sample-dependent criteria to identify different galaxy types (star-forming/quiescent, extended/compact) that we apply both to the simulations and observations from the CANDELS fields. We analyse how the simulated and observed galaxies populate the specific star formation rate – stellar mass surface density diagram. A large fraction of the z = 0 M_{\star }≥slant 10^{11} M_{\odot } quiescent galaxies first experienced a compaction phase (i.e. reduction of galaxy size) while still forming stars, and then a quenching event. We measure the dependence of AGN fraction on galaxies’ locations in this diagram. After correcting the simulations with a redshift and AGN luminosity-dependent model for AGN obscuration, we find good qualitative and quantitative agreement with observations. The AGN fraction is the highest among compact star-forming galaxies (16-20{{ per cent}} at z ̃ 1.5-2), and the lowest among compact quiescent galaxies (6-10{{ per cent}} at z ̃ 1.5-2).

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 484, Issue 4, p.4413-4443, April 2019

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Ehlert et al. (2019)

The Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect of Simulated Jet-inflated Bubbles in Clusters

by
Ehlert, Kristian; Pfrommer, Christoph; Weinberger, Rainer; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Springel, Volker

abstract
Feedback by active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is essential for regulating the fast radiative cooling of low-entropy gas at the centers of galaxy clusters and for reducing star formation rates of central ellipticals. The details of self-regulation depend critically on the unknown contents of AGN-inflated bubbles. Observations of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich (SZ) signal of AGN bubbles provide us with the ability to directly measure the lobe electron pressure given a bubble morphology. Here we compute the SZ signal of jet-inflated bubbles in three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamical simulations of the galaxy cluster MS0735.6+7421 with the Arepo code, and compare our synthetic SZ results to inferences obtained with popular modeling approaches. We find that cutting out ellipsoidal bubbles from a double-beta pressure profile only matches the inner bubble edges in the simulations and fails to account for the emission of the shock-enhanced pressure cocoon outside the bubbles. This additional contribution significantly worsens the accuracy of the cut-out method for jets with small inclinations with respect to the line of sight. Also, the kinetic SZ effect of the bubbles, a previously neglected contribution, becomes relevant at these smaller inclinations due to entrainment and mixing of the intracluster medium with low-density jet material. Fortunately, the different signs of the kinetic SZ signal in opposite lobes allow this effect to be modeled. We present an approximate method to determine the jet inclination, which combines jet power and lifetime estimates, the stand-off distance between jet head and bow shock, and the kinetic SZ effect, thereby helping to correctly infer the bubble contents.

published in
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 872, Issue 1, article id. L8, 6 pp. (February 2019)

link to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Ehlert et al. (2018)

Simulations of the dynamics of magnetized jets and cosmic rays in galaxy clusters

by
Ehlert, K.; Weinberger, R.; Pfrommer, C.; Pakmor, R.; Springel, V.

abstract
Feedback processes by active galactic nuclei in the centres of galaxy clusters appear to prevent large-scale cooling flows and impede star formation. However, the detailed heating mechanism remains uncertain. One promising heating scenario invokes the dissipation of Alfvén waves that are generated by streaming cosmic rays (CRs). In order to study this idea, we use three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamical simulations with the AREPO code that follow the evolution of jet-inflated bubbles that are filled with CRs in a turbulent cluster atmosphere. We find that a single injection event produces the CR distribution and heating rate required for a successful CR heating model. As a bubble rises buoyantly, cluster magnetic fields drape around the leading interface and are amplified to strengths that balance the ram pressure. Together with helical magnetic fields in the bubble, this initially confines the CRs and suppresses the formation of interface instabilities. But as the bubble continues to rise, bubble-scale eddies significantly amplify radial magnetic filaments in its wake and enable CR transport from the bubble to the cooling intracluster medium. By varying the jet parameters, we obtain a rich and diverse set of jet and bubble morphologies ranging from Fanaroff-Riley type I-like (FRI) to FRII-like jets. We identify jet energy as the leading order parameter (keeping the ambient density profiles fixed), whereas jet luminosity is primarily responsible for setting the Mach numbers of shocks around FRII-like sources. Our simulations also produce FRI-like jets that inflate bubbles without detectable shocks and show morphologies consistent with cluster observations.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 481, Issue 3, p.2878-2900, December 2018

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Weinberger et al. (2018)

Supermassive black holes and their feedback effects in the IllustrisTNG simulation

by
Weinberger, Rainer; Springel, Volker; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Nelson, Dylan; Genel, Shy; Pillepich, Annalisa; Vogelsberger, Mark; Marinacci, Federico; Naiman, Jill; Torrey, Paul; Hernquist, Lars

abstract
We study the population of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their effects on massive central galaxies in the IllustrisTNG cosmological hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation. The employed model for SMBH growth and feedback assumes a two-mode scenario in which the feedback from active galactic nuclei occurs through a kinetic, comparatively efficient mode at low accretion rates relative to the Eddington limit, and in the form of a thermal, less efficient mode at high accretion rates. We show that the quenching of massive central galaxies happens coincidently with kinetic-mode feedback, consistent with the notion that active supermassive black holes cause the low specific star formation rates observed in massive galaxies. However, major galaxy mergers are not responsible for initiating most of the quenching events in our model. Up to black hole masses of about 10^{8.5} M_{☉}, the dominant growth channel for SMBHs is in the thermal mode. Higher mass black holes stay mainly in the kinetic mode and gas accretion is self-regulated via their feedback, which causes their Eddington ratios to drop, with SMBH mergers becoming the main channel for residual mass growth. As a consequence, the quasar luminosity function is dominated by rapidly accreting, moderately massive black holes in the thermal mode. We show that the associated growth history of SMBHs produces a low-redshift quasar luminosity function and a redshift zero black hole mass – stellar bulge mass relation is in good agreement with observations, whereas the simulation tends to overpredict the high-redshift quasar luminosity function.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 479, Issue 3, p.4056-4072, September 2018

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Weinberger et al. (2017)

Simulating the interaction of jets with the intracluster medium

by
Weinberger, Rainer; Ehlert, Kristian; Pfrommer, Christoph; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Springel, Volker

abstract
Jets from supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxy clusters are a potential candidate for moderating gas cooling and subsequent star formation through depositing energy in the intracluster gas. In this work, we simulate the jet-intracluster medium interaction using the moving-mesh magnetohydrodynamics code arepo. Our model injects supersonic, low-density, collimated and magnetized outflows in cluster centres, which are then stopped by the surrounding gas, thermalize and inflate low-density cavities filled with cosmic rays. We perform high-resolution, non-radiative simulations of the lobe creation, expansion and disruption, and find that its dynamical evolution is in qualitative agreement with simulations of idealized low-density cavities that are dominated by a large-scale Rayleigh-Taylor instability. The buoyant rising of the lobe does not create energetically significant small-scale chaotic motion in a volume-filling fashion, but rather a systematic upward motion in the wake of the lobe and a corresponding back-flow antiparallel to it. We find that, overall, 50 per cent of the injected energy ends up in material that is not part of the lobe, and about 25 per cent remains in the inner 100 kpc. We conclude that jet-inflated, buoyantly rising cavities drive systematic gas motions that play an important role in heating the central regions, while mixing of lobe material is subdominant. Encouragingly, the main mechanisms responsible for this energy deposition can be modelled already at resolutions within reach in future, high-resolution cosmological simulations of galaxy clusters.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 470, Issue 4, p.4530-4546, October 2017

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Kannan et al. (2017)

Increasing Black Hole Feedback-induced Quenching with Anisotropic Thermal Conduction

by
Kannan, Rahul; Vogelsberger, Mark; Pfrommer, Christoph; Weinberger, Rainer; Springel, Volker; Hernquist, Lars; Puchwein, Ewald; Pakmor, Rüdiger

abstract
Feedback from central supermassive black holes is often invoked to explain the low star formation rates (SFRs) in the massive galaxies at the centers of galaxy clusters. However, the detailed physics of the coupling of the injected feedback energy with the intracluster medium (ICM) is still unclear. Using high-resolution magnetohydrodynamic cosmological simulations of galaxy cluster formation, we investigate the role of anisotropic thermal conduction in shaping the thermodynamic structure of clusters, and in particular, in modifying the impact of black hole feedback. Stratified anisotropically conducting plasmas are formally always unstable, and thus more prone to mixing, an expectation borne out by our results. The increased mixing efficiently isotropizes the injected feedback energy, which in turn significantly improves the coupling between the feedback energy and the ICM. This facilitates an earlier disruption of the cool-core, reduces the SFR by more than an order of magnitude, and results in earlier quenching despite an overall lower amount of feedback energy injected into the cluster core. With conduction, the metallicity gradients and dispersions are lowered, aligning them better with observational constraints. These results highlight the important role of thermal conduction in establishing and maintaining the quiescence of massive galaxies.

published in
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 837, Issue 2, article id. L18, 6 pp. (March 2017)

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

Weinberger et al. (2017)

Simulating galaxy formation with black hole driven thermal and kinetic feedback

by
Weinberger, Rainer; Springel, Volker; Hernquist, Lars; Pillepich, Annalisa; Marinacci, Federico; Pakmor, Rüdiger; Nelson, Dylan; Genel, Shy; Vogelsberger, Mark; Naiman, Jill; Torrey, Paul

abstract
The inefficiency of star formation in massive elliptical galaxies is widely believed to be caused by the interactions of an active galactic nucleus (AGN) with the surrounding gas. Achieving a sufficiently rapid reddening of moderately massive galaxies without expelling too many baryons has however proven difficult for hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation, prompting us to explore a new model for the accretion and feedback effects of supermassive black holes. For high-accretion rates relative to the Eddington limit, we assume that a fraction of the accreted rest mass energy heats the surrounding gas thermally, similar to the ‘quasar mode’ in previous work. For low-accretion rates, we invoke a new, pure kinetic feedback model that imparts momentum to the surrounding gas in a stochastic manner. These two modes of feedback are motivated both by theoretical conjectures for the existence of different types of accretion flows as well as recent observational evidence for the importance of kinetic AGN winds in quenching galaxies. We find that a large fraction of the injected kinetic energy in this mode thermalizes via shocks in the surrounding gas, thereby providing a distributed heating channel. In cosmological simulations, the resulting model produces red, non-star-forming massive elliptical galaxies, and achieves realistic gas fractions, black hole growth histories and thermodynamic profiles in large haloes.

published in
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 465, Issue 3, p.3291-3308, March 2017

links to paper
[ADS][arXiv]

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