The non-causal origin of the black-hole-galaxy scaling relations

Knud Jahnke, Andrea V. MacCiò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show that the M BH-M bulge scaling relations observed from the local to the high-z universe can be largely or even entirely explained by a non-causal origin, i.e., they do not imply the need for any physically coupled growth of black hole (BH) and bulge mass, for example, through feedback by active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Provided some physics for the absolute normalization, the creation of the scaling relations can be fully explained by the hierarchical assembly of BH and stellar mass through galaxy merging, from an initially uncorrelated distribution of BH and stellar masses in the early universe. We show this with a suite of dark matter halo merger trees for which we make assumptions about (uncorrelated) BH and stellar mass values at early cosmic times. We then follow the halos in the presence of global star formation and BH accretion recipes that (1) work without any coupling of the two properties per individual galaxy and (2) correctly reproduce the observed star formation and BH accretion rate density in the universe. With disk-to-bulge conversion in mergers included, our simulations even create the observed slope of ∼1.1 for the M BH-M bulge relation at z = 0. This also implies that AGN feedback is not a required (though still a possible) ingredient in galaxy evolution. In light of this, other mechanisms that can be invoked to truncate star formation in massive galaxies are equally justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 10 2011


  • galaxies: bulges
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: nuclei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The non-causal origin of the black-hole-galaxy scaling relations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this