The brief era of direct collapse black hole formation

  • Yue B
  • Ferrara A
  • Salvaterra R
 et al. 
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It has been proposed that the first, intermediate-mass ($\approx 10^{5-6}~M_\odot$) black holes might form through direct collapse of unpolluted gas in atomic-cooling halos exposed to a strong Lyman-Werner (LW) or near-infrared (NIR) radiation. As these systems are expected to be Compton-thick, photons above 13.6 eV are largely absorbed and re-processed into lower energy bands. It follows that direct collapse black holes (DCBHs) are very bright in the LW/NIR bands, typically outshining small high-redshift galaxies by more than 10 times. Once the first DCBHs form, they then trigger a runaway process of further DCBH formation, producing a sudden rise in their cosmic mass density. The universe enters the "DCBH era" at $z \approx 20$ when a large fraction of atomic-cooling halos are experiencing DCBH formation. By combining the clustering properties of the radiation sources with Monte Carlo simulations we show that in this scenario the DCBH mass density rises from $\sim 5$~$M_\odot$ Mpc$^{-3}$ at $z\sim 30$ to the peak value $\sim5\times10^5 M_\odot$ Mpc$^{-3}$ at $z \sim 14$ in our fiducial model. However, the abundance of \textit{active} (accreting) DCBHs drops after $z \sim 14$, as gas in the potential formation sites (unpolluted halos with virial temperature slightly above $10^4$~K) is photoevaporated. This effect almost completely suppresses DCBH formation after $z\sim 13$. The DCBH formation era lasts only $\approx 150$ Myr, but it might crucially provide the seeds of the supermassive black holes (SMBHs) powering $z\sim6$ quasars.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Galaxies
  • High redshift-quasars
  • Supermassive black holes-dark ages, reionization, first stars-early universe

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  • Bin Yue

  • Andrea Ferrara

  • Ruben Salvaterra

  • Yidong Xu

  • Xuelei Chen

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