Black hole foraging: feedback drives feeding

We suggest a new picture of supermassive black hole (SMBH) growth in galaxy centers. Momentum-driven feedback from an accreting hole gives significant orbital energy but little angular momentum to the surrounding gas. Once central accretion drops, the feedback weakens and swept-up gas falls back towards the SMBH on near-parabolic orbits. These intersect near the black hole with partially opposed specific angular momenta, causing further infall and ultimately the formation of a small-scale accretion disk. The feeding rates into the disk typically exceed Eddington by factors of a few, growing the hole on the Salpeter timescale and stimulating further feedback. Natural consequences of this picture include (i) the formation and maintenance of a roughly toroidal distribution of obscuring matter near the hole; (ii) random orientations of successive accretion disk episodes; (iii) the possibility of rapid SMBH growth; (iv) tidal disruption of stars and close binaries formed from infalling gas, resulting in visible flares and ejection of hypervelocity stars; (v) super-solar abundances of the matter accreting on to the SMBH; and (vi) a lower central dark-matter density, and hence annihilation signal, than adiabatic SMBH growth implies. We also suggest a simple sub-grid recipe for implementing this process in numerical simulations.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Date added: Wed, 9 Oct 13