Deep field observations are an essential tool to probe the cosmological evolution of galaxies. In this context, X-ray deep fields provide information about some of the most energetic cosmological objects: active galactic nuclei (AGN). Astronomers are interested in detecting sufficient numbers of AGN to probe the accretion history at high redshift. This talk gives an overview of the knowledge resulting from a highly complete soft X-ray selected sample collected with ROSAT, XMM-Newton and Chandra deep fields. The principal outcome based on X-ray luminosity functions and space density evolution studies is that low-luminosity AGN evolve in a dramatically different way from high-luminosity AGN: The most luminous quasars perform at significantly earlier cosmic times and are most numerous in a unit volume at cosmological redshift z∼2. In contrast, low-luminosity AGN evolve later and their space density peaks at z∼ 0.7. This finding is also interpreted as an anti-hierarchical growth of supermassive black holes in the Universe. Comparing this with star formation rate history studies one concludes that supermassive black holes enter the cosmic stage before the bulk of the first stars. Therefore, first solutions of the so-called hen-egg problem are suggested. Finally, status developments and expectations of ongoing and future extended observations such as the XMM-COSMOS project are highlighted.
Populations of High Energy Sources in Galaxies
- Pub Date:
- 8 pages, 3 figures. published in proceedings of IAUS230: "Populations of High Energy Sources in Galaxies", August 15-19 2005, Dublin, Eds E.J.A. Meurs and G. Fabbiano