We quantify the importance of mass accretion during AGN phases in the growth of supermassive black holes (BH) by comparing the mass function of black holes in the local universe with that expected from AGN relics, which are black holes grown entirely with mass accretion during AGN phases. The local BH mass function (BHMF) is estimated by applying the well-known correlations between BH mass, bulge luminosity and stellar velocity dispersion to galaxy luminosity and velocity functions. The density of BHs in the local universe is ρBH = 4.6-1.4+1.9 h0.72 ρBHunits. The relic BHMF is derived from the continuity equation with the only assumption that AGN activity is due to accretion onto massive BHs and that merging is not important. We find that the relic BHMF at z = 0 is generated mainly at z<3. Moreover, the BH growth is anti-hierarchical in the sense that smaller BHs (MBH<107M⊙) grow at lower redshifts (z<1) with respect to more massive ones (z∼1-3). Unlike previous work, we find that the BHMF of AGN relics is perfectly consistent with the local BHMF indicating the local BHs were mainly grown during AGN activity. This agreement is obtained while satisfying, at the same time, the constraints imposed from the X-ray background. The comparison with the local BHMF also suggests that the merging process is not important in shaping the relic BHMF, at least at low redshifts (z<3). Our analysis thus suggests the following scenario: local black holes grew during AGN phases in which accreting matter was converted into radiation with efficiencies ɛ = 0.04-0.16 and emitted at a fraction λ = 0.1-1.7 and emitted at a fraction λ = 0.1-1.7 of the Eddington luminosity. The average total lifetime of these active phases ranges from ≃ 4.5× 108 yr for MBH<108M⊙ to ≃ 1.5 × 108 yr for MBH>109M⊙.
The Interplay Among Black Holes, Stars and ISM in Galactic Nuclei
- Pub Date:
- November 2004
- 6 pages, contributed paper to Proceedings of the Conference on "Growing Black Holes" held in Garching, Germany, on June 21-25, 2004, edited by A. Merloni, S. Nayakshin and R. Sunyaev, Springer-Verlag series of "ESO Astrophysics Symposia"