The impact of mechanical AGN feedback on the formation of massive early-type galaxies

Ena Choi, Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Thorsten Naab, Ludwig Oser, Benjamin P. Moster

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116 Scopus citations


We employ cosmological hydrodynamical simulations to investigate the effects of AGN feedback on the formation of massive galaxies with present-day stellar masses of Mstel = 8.8 × 1010-6.0 × 1011M˙. Using smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations with a pressure-entropy formulation that allows an improved treatment of contact discontinuities and fluid mixing, we run three sets of simulations of 20 haloes with different AGN feedback models: (1) no feedback, (2) thermal feedback, and (3) mechanical and radiation feedback. We assume that seed black holes are present at early cosmic epochs at the centre of emerging dark matter haloes and trace their mass growth via gas accretion and mergers with other black holes. Both feedback models successfully recover the observed MBH-σ relation and black hole-to-stellar mass ratio for simulated central early-type galaxies. The baryonic conversion efficiencies are reduced by a factor of 2 compared to models without any AGN feedback at all halo masses. However, massive galaxies simulated with thermal AGN feedback show a factor of ~10-100 higher X-ray luminosities than observed. The mechanical/radiation feedback model reproduces the observed correlation between X-ray luminosities and velocity dispersion, e.g. for galaxies with σ = 200 km s-1, the X-ray luminosity is reduced from 1042 erg s-1 to 1040 erg s-1. It also efficiently suppresses late-time star formation, reducing the specific star formation rate from 10-10.5 yr-1 to 10-14 yr-1 on average and resulting in quiescent galaxies since z = 2, whereas the thermal feedback model shows higher late-time in situ star formation rates than observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4105-4116
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Mar 2015


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Methods: numerical
  • Quasars: general
  • Quasars: supermassive black holes


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