Measuring AGN Feedback with the Sunyaev‐Zel’dovich Effect Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • One of the most important and poorly-understood issues in structure formation is the role of outflows driven by active galactic nuclei (AGN). Using large-scale cosmological simulations, we compute the impact of such outflows on the small-scale distribution of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Like gravitationally-heated structures, AGN outflows induce CMB distortions both through thermal motions and peculiar velocities, by processes known as the thermal and kinetic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effects, respectively. For AGN outflows the thermal SZ effect is dominant, doubling the angular power spectrum on arcminute scales. But the most distinct imprint of AGN feedback is a substantial increase in the thermal SZ distortions around elliptical galaxies, post-starburst ellipticals, and quasars, which is linearly proportional to the outflow energy. While point source subtraction is difficult for quasars, we show that by appropriately stacking microwave measurements around early-type galaxies, the new generation of small-scale microwave telescopes will be able to directly measure AGN feedback at the level important for current theoretical models.

publication date

  • May 10, 2008