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Optimal neighbourhood to nurture giants: a fundamental link between star forming galaxies and direct collapse black holes

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Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date22 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


Massive 104–5 M⊙ black hole seeds resulting from the direct collapse of pristine gas require a metal-free atomic cooling halo with extremely low H2 fraction, allowing the gas to cool isothermally in the presence of atomic hydrogen. In order to achieve this chemo-thermodynamical state, the gas needs to be irradiated by both Lyman–Werner (LW) photons in the energy range of 11.2–13.6 eV capable of photodissociating H2 and 0.76 eV photons capable of photodetaching H−. Employing cosmological simulations capable of creating the first galaxies in high resolution, we explore if there exists a subset of galaxies that favour direct collapse black hole (DCBH) formation in their vicinity. We find a fundamental relation between the maximum distance at which a galaxy can cause DCBH formation and its star formation rate (SFR), which automatically folds in the chemo-thermodynamical effects of both H2 photodissociation and H− photodetachment. This is in contrast to the approximately three order of magnitude scatter seen in the LW flux parameter computed at the maximum distance, which is synonymous with a scatter in ‘Jcrit’. Thus, computing the rates and/or the LW flux from a galaxy is no longer necessary to identify neighbouring sites of DCBH formation, as our relation allows one to distinguish regions where DCBH formation could be triggered in the vicinity of a galaxy of a given SFR.

    Research areas

  • astro-ph.GA, astro-ph.CO

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