Suppressing star formation in quiescent galaxies with supermassive black hole winds
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Quiescent galaxies with little or no ongoing star formation dominate the galaxy population above M∗ ∼ 2 × 1010 M⊙ , where their numbers have increased by a factor of ∼ 25 since z ∼ 21–4 . Once star formation is initially shut down, perhaps during the quasar phase of rapid accretion onto a supermassive black hole5–7 , an unknown mechanism must remove or heat subsequently accreted gas from stellar mass loss8 or mergers that would otherwise cool to form stars9, 10. Energy output from a black hole accreting at a low rate has been proposed11–13 , but observational evidence for this in the form of expanding hot gas shells is indirect and limited t o radio galaxies at the centers of clusters14,15, which are too rare to explain the vast majority of the quiescent population16. Here we report bisymmetric emission features co-aligned with strong ionized gas velocity gradients from which we infer the presence of centrally-driven winds in typical quiescent galaxies that host low-luminosity active nuclei. These galaxies are surprisingly common, accounting for as much as 10% of the population at M∗ ∼ 2 × 1010 M⊙ . In a prototypical example, we calculate that the energy input from the galaxy’s low-level active nucleus is capable of driving the observed wind, which contains sufficient mechanical energy to heat ambient, cooler gas (also detected) and thereby suppress star formation.
Cheung , E , Bundy , K , Cappellari , M , Peirani , S , Rujopakarn , W , Westfall , K , Yan , R , Bershady , M , Greene , J E , Heckman , T M , Drory , N , Law , D R , Masters , K L , Thomas , D , Wake , D A , Weijmans , A-M , Rubin , K , Belfiore , F , Vulcani , B , Chen , Y , Zhang , K , Gelfand , J D , Bizyaev , D , Roman-Lopes , A & Schneider , D P 2016 , ' Suppressing star formation in quiescent galaxies with supermassive black hole winds ' Nature , vol 533 , pp. 504-508 . DOI: 10.1038/nature18006
© 2016, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at www.nature.com / https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18006