The First Billion Years project: birthplaces of direct collapse black holes

Bhaskar Agarwal, Claudio Dalla Vecchia, Jarrett L. Johnson, Sadegh Khochfar, Jan-Pieter Paardekooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the environment in which direct-collapse black holes may form by analysing a cosmological, hydrodynamical simulation that is part of the First Billion Years project. This simulation includes the most relevant physical processes leading to direct collapse of haloes, most importantly, molecular hydrogen depletion by dissociation of H2 and H from the evolving Lyman–Werner radiation field. We selected a sample of pristine atomic-cooling haloes that have never formed stars in their past, have not been polluted with heavy elements and are cooling predominantly via atomic hydrogen lines. Amongst them we identified six haloes that could potentially harbour massive seed black holes formed via direct collapse (with masses in the range of 104−6 M). These potential hosts of direct-collapse black holes form as satellites are found within 15 physical kpc of protogalaxies, with stellar masses in the range ≈105−7 Mand maximal star formation rates of ≈0.1 M⊙ yr−1 over the past 5 Myr, and are exposed to the highest flux of Lyman–Werner radiation emitted from the neighbouring galaxies. It is the proximity to these protogalaxies that differentiates these haloes from rest of the sample.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-657
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014


  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • quasars: supermassive black holes
  • dark ages
  • reionization
  • first stars
  • early Universe


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