Modeling the Evolution of Galaxies and Massive Black Holes Across Cosmic Time
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractI use cosmological hydrodynamic simulations to investigate different aspects of the evolution of galaxies and massive black holes across cosmic time. First, I present high resolution "zoom-in" simulations including various prescriptions for galactic outflows designed to explore the impact of star-formation driven winds on the morphological, dynamical, and structural properties of individual galaxies from early times down to z = 2. Simulations without winds produce massive, compact galaxies with low gas fractions, super-solar metallicities, high bulge fractions, and much of the star formation concentrated within the inner kpc. I show that strong winds are required to suppress early star formation, maintain high gas fractions, redistribute star-forming gas and metals over larger scales, and increase the velocity dispersion of simulated galaxies, more in agreement with the large, extended, turbulent disks typical of high-redshift star-forming galaxies. Next, I combine cosmological simulations with analytic models of black hole growth to investigate the physical mechanisms driving the observed connection between massive black holes and their host galaxies. I describe a plausible model consistent with available observations in which black hole growth is limited by galaxy-scale torques. In this torque-limited growth scenario, black holes and host galaxies evolve on average toward the observed scaling relations, regardless of the initial conditions, and with no need for mass averaging through mergers or additional self-regulation processes. Outflows from the accretion disk play a key role by providing significant mass loss, but there is no need for strong interaction with the inflowing gas in order to regulate black holes in a non-linear feedback loop. I discuss some of the main implications of this scenario in the context of current observations, including the distribution and evolution of Eddington ratios, the connection between major galaxy mergers, star formation, and nuclear activity, and the rapid growth of the first black holes in the early universe. Finally, I present preliminary results from simulations including a fully consistent treatment of black hole accretion and feedback indicating that the effects of powerful accretion-driven outflows on black hole growth itself may have a more limited impact than previously thought.
Degree ProgramGraduate College