Transition of BH feeding from the quiescent regime into star-forming cold disk regime

Kohei Inayoshi, Kohei Ichikawa, Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Rolf Kuiper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the properties of rotating accretion flows onto supermassive black holes (SMBHs) using axisymmetric two-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations with radiative cooling and BH feedback. The simulations resolve the accretion dynamics of gas outside from the BH influence radius through an inner accretion disk. For lower Bondi accretion rates in units of the Eddington rate (Ṁ B ≪ 103Edd), the BH feeding is suppressed due to turbulent motion by several orders of magnitude from the Bondi rate with outflows to the Bondi radius nearly balancing inflows. Thus, the radiative luminosity results in as low as ∼ 1010 − 107 LEdd, where LEdd is the Eddington luminosity. For higher rates of Ṁ B ≳ 103Edd, the optically-thin accreting gas cools via free-free emission and forms a geometrically-thin disk, which feeds the BH efficiently and increases the radiative luminosity to ≳ 103 LEdd. The transitional behavior of accreting BHs in galactic nuclei from radiatively inefficient phases to cold disk accretion naturally explains (1) the reason for the offset between the observed luminosities and theoretical predictions for nearby quiescent SMBHs, and (2) the conditions to fuel gas into the nuclear SMBH. In addition, the cold disk formed in galactic nuclei tends to be gravitationally unstable and leads to star formation when the Bondi rate is as high as Ṁ B ≳ 102 M yr1. This is a plausible explanation of the correlation observed between star formation rates and BH feeding rates in Seyfert galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUnknown Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 6


  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Galaxies: Seyfert
  • Quasars: supermassive black holes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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