AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 65. Unification and Temporal Evolution of Active Galaxies
Oral, Thursday, January 13, 2000, 2:00-3:30pm, Regency VI

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[65.01] Cosmological Evolution of the Accretion Rate of Quasars

K. Menou, Z. Haiman (Princeton University)

We consider a class of models for the redshift evolution (between 0\lesssim z \lesssim 4) of the observed optical and X--ray quasar luminosity functions (LFs), with the following assumptions: (i) the mass--function of dark matter halos follows the Press--Schechter theory, (ii) the black hole (BH) mass scales linearly with the halo mass, (iii) quasars have a constant universal lifetime, and (iv) a thin accretion disk provides the optical luminosity of quasars, while the X--ray/optical flux ratio is calibrated from a sample of observed quasars. The mass accretion rate \dot{M} onto quasar BHs is a free parameter of the models, that we constrain using the observed LFs. The accretion rate \dot M inferred from either the optical or X--ray data under these assumptions generally decreases as a function of cosmic time from z ~q 4 to z ~q 0. We find that a comparable accretion rate is inferred from the X--ray and optical LF only if the X--ray/optical flux ratio decreases with BH mass. Near z~q 0, \dot M drops to substantially sub-Eddington values at which advection--dominated accretion flows (ADAFs) exist. Such a decline of \dot M, possibly followed by a transition to radiatively inefficient ADAFs, could explain both the absence of bright quasars in the local universe and the faintness of accreting BHs at the centers of nearby galaxies. We argue that a decline of the accretion rate of the quasar population is indeed expected in cosmological structure formation models.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to www.astro.princeton.edu/~kristen/quasar.ps. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser. [Previous] | [Session 65] | [Next]