Modeling Supermassive Black Holes in Cosmological Simulations
Tremmel, Michael Josef
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My thesis work has focused on improving the implementation of supermassive black hole (SMBH) physics in cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. SMBHs are ubiquitous in mas- sive galaxies, as well as bulge-less galaxies and dwarfs, and are thought to be a critical component to massive galaxy evolution. Still, much is unknown about how SMBHs form, grow, and affect their host galaxies. Cosmological simulations are an invaluable tool for un- derstanding the formation of galaxies, self-consistently tracking their evolution with realistic merger and gas accretion histories. SMBHs are often modeled in these simulations (generally as a necessity to produce realistic massive galaxies), but their implementations are commonly simplified in ways that can limit what can be learned. Current and future observations are opening new windows into the lifecycle of SMBHs and their host galaxies, but require more detailed, physically motivated simulations. Within the novel framework I have developed, SMBHs 1) are seeded at early times without a priori assumptions of galaxy occupation, 2) grow in a way that accounts for the angular momentum of gas, and 3) experience realistic orbital evolution. I show how this model, properly tuned with a novel parameter optimiza- tion technique, results in realistic galaxies and SMBHs. Utilizing the unique ability of these simulations to capture the dynamical evolution of SMBHs, I present the first self-consistent prediction for the formation timescales of close SMBH pairs, precursors to SMBH binaries and merger events potentially detected by future gravitational wave experiments.
- Astronomy