The (black hole)-bulge mass scaling relation at low masses [GA]

Several recent papers have reported on the occurrence of active galactic nuclei (AGN) containing under-massive black holes relative to a linear scaling relation between black hole mass (M_bh) and host spheroid stellar mass (M_sph,*). Dramatic revisions to the M_bh-M_sph,* and M_bh-L_sph relations, based on samples containing predominantly inactive galaxies, have however recently identified a new steeper relation at M_bh < (2-10)x10^8 M_Sun, roughly corresponding to M_sph,* < (0.3-1)x10^{11} M_Sun. We show that this steeper, quadratic-like M_bh-M_sph,* relation defined by the Sersic galaxies, i.e. galaxies without partially depleted cores, roughly tracks the apparent offset of the AGN having 10^5 < M_bh/M_Sun < 0.5×10^8. That is, these AGN are not randomly offset with low black hole masses, but also follow a steeper (non-linear) relation. As noted by Busch et al., confirmation or rejection of a possible AGN offset from the steeper M_bh-M_sph,* relation defined by the Sersic galaxies will benefit from improved stellar mass-to-light ratios for the spheroids hosting these AGN. Several implications for formation theories are noted. Furthermore, reasons for possible under- and over-massive black holes, the potential existence of intermediate mass black holes (<10^5 M_Sun), and the new steep (black hole)–(nuclear star cluster) relation, M_bh ~ (M_nc)^{2.7+/-0.7}, are also discussed.

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A. Graham and N. Scott
Wed, 10 Dec 14

Comments: ApJ, in press (accepted Oct 28, 2014). Two figures