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Journal Article

Linking the spin evolution of massive black holes to galaxy kinematics


Sesana,  Alberto
Astrophysical Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Sesana, A., Barausse, E., Dotti, M., & Rossi, E. M. (2014). Linking the spin evolution of massive black holes to galaxy kinematics. Astrophysical Journal, 794: 104. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/794/2/104.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-50FF-A
We present the results of a semianalytical model that evolves the masses and spins of massive black holes together with the properties of their host galaxies along the cosmic history. As a consistency check, our model broadly reproduces a number of observations, e.g. the cosmic star formation history, the black hole mass and luminosity function and the galaxy mass function at low redshift, the black hole to bulge mass relation, and the morphological distribution at low redshift. For the first time in a semianalytical investigation, we relax the simplifying assumptions of perfect coherency or perfect isotropy of the gas fueling the black holes. The dynamics of gas is instead linked to the morphological properties of the host galaxies, resulting in different spin distributions for black holes hosted in different galaxy types. We compare our results with the observed sample of spin measurements obtained through broad K$\alpha$ iron line fitting. The observational data disfavor both accretion along a fixed direction and isotropic fueling. Conversely, when the properties of the accretion flow are anchored to the kinematics of the host galaxy, we obtain a good match between theoretical expectations and observations. A mixture of coherent accretion and phases of activity in which the gas dynamics is similar to that of the stars in bulges (i.e., with a significant velocity dispersion superimposed to a net rotation) best describes the data, adding further evidence in support to the coevolution of massive black holes and their hosts.