Off the beaten path: a new approach to realistically model the orbital decay of supermassive black holes in galaxy formation simulations - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Year : 2015

Off the beaten path: a new approach to realistically model the orbital decay of supermassive black holes in galaxy formation simulations

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1
M. Tremmel
  • Function : Author
F. Governato
  • Function : Author
T. R. Quinn
  • Function : Author

Abstract

We introduce a sub-grid force correction term to better model the dynamical friction experienced by a supermassive black hole (SMBH) as it orbits within its host galaxy. This new approach accurately follows an SMBH's orbital decay and drastically improves over commonly used `advection' methods. The force correction introduced here naturally scales with the force resolution of the simulation and converges as resolution is increased. In controlled experiments, we show how the orbital decay of the SMBH closely follows analytical predictions when particle masses are significantly smaller than that of the SMBH. In a cosmological simulation of the assembly of a small galaxy, we show how our method allows for realistic black hole orbits. This approach overcomes the limitations of the advection scheme, where black holes are rapidly and artificially pushed towards the halo centre and then forced to merge, regardless of their orbits. We find that SMBHs from merging dwarf galaxies can spend significant time away from the centre of the remnant galaxy. Improving the modelling of SMBH orbital decay will help in making robust predictions of the growth, detectability and merger rates of SMBHs, especially at low galaxy masses or at high redshift.
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Dates and versions

insu-03644882 , version 1 (20-04-2022)

Licence

Attribution - CC BY 4.0

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M. Tremmel, F. Governato, M. Volonteri, T. R. Quinn. Off the beaten path: a new approach to realistically model the orbital decay of supermassive black holes in galaxy formation simulations. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2015, 451, pp.1868-1874. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stv1060⟩. ⟨insu-03644882⟩
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