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The Active Fraction of Massive Black Holes in Dwarf Galaxies

Presentation #106.60 in the session “AGN (Poster)”.

Published onApr 01, 2022
The Active Fraction of Massive Black Holes in Dwarf Galaxies

The population of massive black holes (MBHs) in dwarf galaxies is elusive, but fundamentally important to understand the coevolution of black holes with their hosts and the formation of the first collapsed objects in the Universe. While some progress was made in determining the X-ray detected fraction of MBHs in dwarfs, with typical values ranging from 0% to 6%, their overall active fraction, 𝒜, is still largely unconstrained. Here, we develop a theoretical model to predict the multiwavelength active fraction of MBHs in dwarf galaxies starting from first principles and based on the physical properties of the host, namely, its stellar mass and angular momentum content. We find multiwavelength active fractions for MBHs, accreting at typically low rates, ranging from 5% to 22%, and increasing with the stellar mass of the host as 𝒜 ~ (log10 M*)4.5. If dwarfs are characterized by low-metallicity environments, the active fraction may reach ~30% for the most massive hosts. For galaxies with stellar mass in the range 107 < M* [M] < 1010, our predictions are in agreement with occupation fractions derived from simulations and semi-analytical models. Additionally, we provide a fitting formula to predict the probability of finding an active MBH in a dwarf galaxy from observationally derived data. This model will be instrumental to guide future observational efforts to find MBHs in dwarfs. The James Webb Space Telescope, in particular, will play a crucial role in detecting MBHs in dwarfs, possibly uncovering active fractions ~3 times larger than current X-ray surveys.


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