Colloquia - Astronomy Department

AGN Feedback and the Evolution of Massive Galaxies

Jerry Ostriker, Princeton University

Thursday, September 14, 2017: 3:45pm
1033 Lederle Tower

Refreshments available from 3:45-4:00 PM in the 1033 LGRT lounge area.


Black holes, resident in the centers of galaxies, will be fed by accretion of ambient gas whenever gas reaches those central regions. This can be due to mergers, but even without mergers the evolution of the stellar populations of normal galaxies provides very large amounts of gas, as stars pass through the planetary nebula stage, the total mass release being greater than 1011 Msolar for massive ellipticals. Much of that gas will cool and fall to the centers of the systems, where it will induce starbursts and accretion events onto the central black holes with resultant AGN outbursts. The mass, momentum and energy in these outbursts can have dramatic consequences regulating the growth of the BH and quenching star formation in the ambient galaxy. Most AGN feedback treatments do not include the mass and momentum components. We follow these events with 1D, 2D and 3D hydrodynamic codes. BH growth is similar to what has been found by others, but the momentum driving produces much more energetic winds than does thermal feedback, reducing star formation and thermal X-ray emission. Observable consequences include the narrow line AGN absorption lines, shock accelerated synchrotron emitting particles and wind driven bubbles in the IGM. In addition, we find that the feedback strongly inhibits inflow, causing episodic accretion and a low “duty cycle”. The simulations help us to understand many phenomena including the black hole stellar mass relation, “quenching” of the mass growth, the X-Ray luminosity of ellipticals, the incidence of the “E+A” phenomena and the observed fact that most of the black holes found in galactic centers are found in the “off” state.

Event Contact

Connie Milne
(413) 545-2194