Cosmic evolution of the incidence of Active Galactic Nuclei in massive clusters: Simulations versus observations

Iván Muñoz Rodríguez, Antonis Georgakakis, Francesco Shankar, Viola Allevato, Silvia Bonoli, Marcella Brusa, Andrea Lapi, Akke Viitanen

Submitted on 31 October 2022


This paper explores the role of small-scale environment (<1 Mpc) in modulating accretion events onto supermassive black holes by studying the incidence of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) in massive clusters of galaxies. A flexible, data-driven semi-empirical model is developed based on a minimal set of parameters and under the zero order assumption that the incidence of AGN in galaxies is independent of environment. This is used to predict how the fraction of X-ray selected AGN among galaxies in massive dark matter halos (3×1014M) evolves with redshift and reveal tensions with observations. At high redshift, z1.2, the model underpredicts AGN fractions, particularly at high X-ray luminosities, LX(210keV)1044ergs1. At low redshift, z0.2, the model estimates fractions of moderate luminosity AGN (LX(210keV)1043ergs1) that are a factor of 23 higher than the observations. These findings reject the zero order assumption on which the semi-empirical model hinges and point to a strong and redshift-dependent influence of the small-scale environment on the growth of black holes. Cluster of galaxies appear to promote AGN activity relative to the model expectation at z1.2 and suppress it close to the present day. These trends could be explained by the increasing gas content of galaxies toward higher redshift combined with an efficient triggering of AGN at earlier times in galaxies that fall onto clusters.


Comment: Accepted in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Subjects: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies; Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena


Specific accretion rate distributions that describe the probability of a galaxy hosting an AGN with specific accretion rate $\lambda_{\rm sBHAR}$. The shaded regions correspond to different observational measurements of P($\lambda_{\rm sBHAR}$). The purple colour shows the \citet{aird18_sar} result, where different line styles indicate different galaxy types: star-forming galaxies (solid line) or passive (dash-dotted). The green colour shows the \citet{age17_sar} constraints on the specific accretion are distribution. All curves correspond to the redshift interval $z=0.5-1$ and stellar mass interval $M_\star=10^{10.5}-10^{11}M_\odot$. The extent of the shaded regions correspond to the 68\% confidence interval around the median (bold curves).