AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 116 The Black Hole-Spheroid Relation and Mergers
Poster, Wednesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 11, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[116.04] Unifying the Quasar, Black Hole, Interacting Galaxy, and Spheroid Populations through Galaxy Mergers

P. F. Hopkins, L. Hernquist, T. J. Cox, B. Robertson (CfA), T. Di Matteo (CMU), V. Springel (MPA), P. Martini (OSU), R. Somerville (MPA), Y. Li (CfA)

We study the link between quasars, the merging galaxy population, and the remnant red, elliptical galaxy population using a model for the self-regulated growth of supermassive black holes in mergers involving gas-rich galaxies. Mergers drive nuclear inflows of gas, fueling starbursts and obscured quasars until feedback energy from black hole growth expels the surrounding gas, rendering the quasar briefly visible as a bright optical source. With no significant remaining gas supply, the quasar dies, and the stellar remnant relaxes as a passively evolving spheroid with properties and correlations typical of red, elliptical galaxies. Specifically, we demonstrate that the statistics of merger rates/fractions, luminosity functions, mass functions, star formation rate distributions, quasar luminosity functions, quasar host galaxy luminosity functions, and elliptical/red galaxy luminosity and mass functions are self-consistent and follow from one another as predicted by the merger hypothesis, when physically motivated models of the time evolution of mergers are applied to relate the populations. Using a suite of hundreds of hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy mergers, we de-convolve quasar, merging, and red-sequence galaxy luminosity functions to determine merger rates and the birthrate of black holes and spheroids as a function of mass and luminosity. We use this to predict a wide array of quasar, quasar host galaxy, merging galaxy, starburst/ULIRG, and red-sequence galaxy properties and distributions, and in each case our predictions agree well with existing observations. These very different distributions indeed reflect the same fundamental underlying distribution, that of gas-rich galaxy mergers, and our methodology allows us to map these different manifestations of merger phenomena to one another, relating diverse observations and developing new tests of the unification of these processes.

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