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Galaxy Zoo: the fundamentally different co-evolution of supermassive black holes and their early- and late-type host galaxies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Kevin Schawinski
  • C. Megan Urry
  • Shanil Virani
  • Paolo Coppi
  • Steven P. Bamford
  • Ezequiel Treister
  • Chris J. Lintott
  • Marc Sarzi
  • William C. Keel
  • Sugata Kaviraj
  • Carolin N. Cardamone
  • Karen L. Masters
  • Nicholas P. Ross
  • Dan Andreescu
  • Phil Murray
  • M. Jordan Raddick
  • Anze Slosar
  • Alex S. Szalay
  • Jan Vandenberg
We use data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and visual classifications of morphology from the Galaxy Zoo project to study black hole growth in the nearby universe (z < 0.05) and to break down the active galactic nucleus (AGN) host galaxy population by color, stellar mass, and morphology. We find that the black hole growth at luminosities L[Oiii] >1040 erg s–1 in early- and late-type galaxies is fundamentally different. AGN host galaxies as a population have a broad range of stellar masses (1010-1011 M ), reside in the green valley of the color-mass diagram and their central black holes have median masses around 106.5 M . However, by comparing early- and late-type AGN host galaxies to their non-active counterparts, we find several key differences: in early-type galaxies, it is preferentially the galaxies with the least massive black holes that are growing, while in late-type galaxies, it is preferentially the most massive black holes that are growing. The duty cycle of AGNs in early-type galaxies is strongly peaked in the green valley below the low-mass end (1010 M ) of the red sequence at stellar masses where there is a steady supply of blue cloud progenitors. The duty cycle of AGNs in late-type galaxies on the other hand peaks in massive (1011 M ) green and red late-types which generally do not have a corresponding blue cloud population of similar mass. At high-Eddington ratios (L/L Edd>0.1), the only population with a substantial fraction of AGNs are the low-mass green valley early-type galaxies. Finally, the Milky Way likely resides in the "sweet spot" on the color-mass diagram where the AGN duty cycle of late-type galaxies is highest. We discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of the role of AGNs in the evolution of galaxies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-302
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


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