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The Sub-Eddington Boundary for the Quasar Mass–Luminosity Plane: A Theoretical Perspective

Department of Physics, Kennesaw State University, Marietta, GA 30060, USA
Department of Physics & Astronomy, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330, USA
Department of Mathematics, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Universe 2019, 5(6), 145;
Received: 17 May 2019 / Revised: 4 June 2019 / Accepted: 6 June 2019 / Published: 11 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Progress in Relativistic Astrophysics)
By exploring more than sixty thousand quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 5, Steinhardt & Elvis discovered a sub-Eddington boundary and a redshift-dependent drop-off at higher black hole mass, possible clues to the growth history of massive black holes. Our contribution to this special issue of Universe amounts to an application of a model for black hole accretion and jet formation to these observations. For illustrative purposes, we include ~100,000 data points from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 7 where the sub-Eddington boundary is also visible and propose a theoretical picture that explains these features. By appealing to thin disk theory and both the lower accretion efficiency and the time evolution of jetted quasars compared to non-jetted quasars in our “gap paradigm”, we explain two features of the sub-Eddington boundary. First, we show that a drop-off on the quasar mass-luminosity plane for larger black hole mass occurs at all redshifts. But the fraction of jetted quasars is directly related to the merger function in this paradigm, which means the jetted quasar fraction drops with decrease in redshift, which allows us to explain a second feature of the sub-Eddington boundary, namely a redshift dependence of the slope of the quasar mass–luminosity boundary at high black hole mass stemming from a change in radiative efficiency with time. We are able to reproduce the mass dependence of, as well as the oscillating behavior in, the slope of the sub-Eddington boundary as a function of time. The basic physical idea involves retrograde accretion occurring only for a subset of the more massive black holes, which implies that most spinning black holes in our model are prograde accretors. In short, this paper amounts to a qualitative overview of how a sub-Eddington boundary naturally emerges in the gap paradigm. View Full-Text
Keywords: quasars; active galactic nuclei; supermassive black holes quasars; active galactic nuclei; supermassive black holes
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Garofalo, D.; Christian, D.J.; Jones, A.M. The Sub-Eddington Boundary for the Quasar Mass–Luminosity Plane: A Theoretical Perspective. Universe 2019, 5, 145.

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