Limits on the growth rate of supermassive black holes at early cosmic epochs

Amir Levinson*, Ehud Nakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The effect of active galactic nucleus (AGN) wind feedback on the accretion rate and mass evolution of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) is considered. It is shown, under reasonable assumptions, that the rate at which gas can be supplied to an SMBH at the centre of a young galaxy is limited to ~20(σ/350 km s-1)4M yr-1 (where σ is the velocity dispersion of the host bulge) by interaction of winds expelled from the innermost regions of the accretion flow with the gas in the bulge. This rate is independent of the black hole mass but is sensitive to the properties of the host bulge. It is further argued that the interaction of the wind and the inflowing gas in the bulge can strongly affect the structure of the accretion flow in the super- Eddington regime, potentially leading to highly super-Eddington accretion into the SMBH. About 300 Myr after the onset of the accretion phase, the AGN wind expels all the gas from the bulge and the accretion rate is strongly suppressed. This scenario is in remarkable agreement with recent observations, as it (i) reveals the origin of the maximal observed accretion rates, (ii) accounts for the inferred growth rate of SMBHs at high redshift (independent of their initial seed masses), (iii) elucidates the decline in the accretion rate at lower redshifts and (iv) explains the relation between s and the mass MBH of the central SMBH, measured in the local Universe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2673-2678
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1277/13


    • Accretion
    • Accretion discs
    • Black hole physics
    • Hydrodynamics
    • Methods: numerical


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