Universal Transition Diagram from Dormant to Actively Accreting Supermassive Black Holes

Kohei Inayoshi, Kohei Ichikawa, Luis C. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The vast majority of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in the local universe exhibit levels of activity much lower than those expected from gas supplying rates onto the galactic nuclei, and only a small fraction of silent SMBHs can turn into active galactic nuclei. Revisiting observational data of very nearby SMBHs whose gravitational spheres of influence are spatially reached by the Chandra X-ray satellite, we find that the level of BH activity drastically increases from the quiescent phase when the inflow rate outside of the BH influence radius is higher than 0.1% of the Eddington accretion rate. We also show that the relation between the nuclear luminosity and gas accretion rate from the BH influence radius measured from X-ray observations is well described by the universal state transition of accreting SMBHs, as predicted by recent hydrodynamical simulations with radiative cooling and BH feedback. After the state transition, young massive stars should form naturally in the nucleus, as observed in the case of the nearest SMBH, Sagittarius A∗, which is currently quiescent but was recently active.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 10


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