Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4

Juna A. Kollmeier, Christopher A. Unken, Christopher S. Kochanek, Andrew Gould, David H. Weinberg, Matthias Dietrich, Richard Cool, D. E Y Arjun, Daniel J. Eisenstein, Buell Tomasson Jannuzi, Emeric L E Floc'H, Daniel Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

304 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We study the distribution of Eddington luminosity ratios, L boj/LEdd, of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) discovered in the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES). We combine Hβ, Mg II, and C IV line widths with continuum luminosities to estimate black hole (BH) masses in 407 AGNs, covering the redshift range z ∼ 0.3-4 and the bolometric luminosity range Lbol ∼ 1045-1047 ergs s-1. The sample consists of X-ray or mid-infrared (24 μm) point sources with optical magnitude R ≤ 21.5 mag and optical emission-line spectra characteristic of AGNs. For the range of luminosity and redshift probed by AGES, the distribution of estimated Eddington ratios is well described as log-normal, with a peak at Z-bol/LEdd ≃ 1/4 and a dispersion of 0.3 dex. Since additional sources of scatter are minimal, this dispersion must account for contributions from the scatter between estimated and true BH mass and the scatter between estimated and true bolometric luminosity. Therefore, we conclude that (1) neither of these sources of error can contribute more than ∼0.3 dex rms, and (2) the true Eddington ratios of optically luminous AGNs are even more sharply peaked. Because the mass estimation errors must be smaller than ∼0.3 dex, we can also investigate the distribution of Eddington ratios at fixed BH mass. We show for the first time that the distribution of Eddington ratios at fixed BH mass is peaked, and that the dearth of AGNs at a factor of ∼ 10 below Eddington is real and not an artifact of sample selection. These results provide strong evidence that supermassive BHs gain most of their mass while radiating close to the Eddington limit, and they suggest that the fueling rates in luminous AGNs are ultimately determined by BH self-regulation of the accretion flow rather than galactic-scale dynamical disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume648
Issue number1 I
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

active galactic nuclei
luminosity
galaxies
refueling
erg
point source
artifact
point sources
light emission
line spectra
artifacts
accretion
emission spectra
coverings
disturbances
disturbance
continuums
distribution
estimates
x rays

Keywords

  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Kollmeier, J. A., Unken, C. A., Kochanek, C. S., Gould, A., Weinberg, D. H., Dietrich, M., ... Stern, D. (2006). Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4. Astrophysical Journal, 648(1 I), 128-139. https://doi.org/10.1086/505646

Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4. / Kollmeier, Juna A.; Unken, Christopher A.; Kochanek, Christopher S.; Gould, Andrew; Weinberg, David H.; Dietrich, Matthias; Cool, Richard; Arjun, D. E Y; Eisenstein, Daniel J.; Jannuzi, Buell Tomasson; Floc'H, Emeric L E; Stern, Daniel.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 648, No. 1 I, 01.09.2006, p. 128-139.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kollmeier, JA, Unken, CA, Kochanek, CS, Gould, A, Weinberg, DH, Dietrich, M, Cool, R, Arjun, DEY, Eisenstein, DJ, Jannuzi, BT, Floc'H, ELE & Stern, D 2006, 'Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4', Astrophysical Journal, vol. 648, no. 1 I, pp. 128-139. https://doi.org/10.1086/505646
Kollmeier JA, Unken CA, Kochanek CS, Gould A, Weinberg DH, Dietrich M et al. Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4. Astrophysical Journal. 2006 Sep 1;648(1 I):128-139. https://doi.org/10.1086/505646
Kollmeier, Juna A. ; Unken, Christopher A. ; Kochanek, Christopher S. ; Gould, Andrew ; Weinberg, David H. ; Dietrich, Matthias ; Cool, Richard ; Arjun, D. E Y ; Eisenstein, Daniel J. ; Jannuzi, Buell Tomasson ; Floc'H, Emeric L E ; Stern, Daniel. / Black hole masses and eddington ratios at 0.3 < z < 4. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2006 ; Vol. 648, No. 1 I. pp. 128-139.
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