Black Holes on FIRE: Stellar Feedback Limits Early Feeding of Galactic Nuclei

Angles-Alcazar et al., available on arXiv.

Abstract: We introduce massive black holes (BHs) in the Feedback In Realistic Environments project and perform high-resolution cosmological hydrodynamic simulations of quasar-mass halos (M_halo(z=2)~10^12.5 Msun) down to z=1. These simulations model stellar feedback by supernovae, stellar winds, and radiation, and BH growth using a gravitational torque-based prescription tied to resolved properties of galactic nuclei. We do not include BH feedback. We show that early BH growth occurs through short (<~1 Myr) accretion episodes that can reach or even exceed the Eddington rate. In this regime, BH growth is limited by bursty stellar feedback continuously evacuating gas from galactic nuclei, and BHs remain under-massive relative to the local M_BH-M_bulge relation. BH growth is more efficient at later times, when the nuclear stellar potential retains a significant gas reservoir, star formation becomes less bursty, and galaxies settle into a more ordered state, with BHs rapidly converging onto the scaling relation when the host reaches M_bulge~10^10 Msun. Our results are not sensitive to the details of the accretion model so long as BH growth is tied to the gas content within ~100 pc of the BH. Our simulations imply that bursty stellar feedback has strong implications for BH and AGN demographics, especially in the early Universe and for low-mass galaxies.