From Supermassive Black Holes to Dwarf Elliptical Nuclei: A Mass Continuum Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Considerable evidence suggests that supermassive black holes reside at the centers of massive galactic bulges. At a lower galactic mass range, many dwarf galaxies contain extremely compact nuclei that structurally resemble massive globular clusters. We show that both these types of central massive objects (CMO's) define a single unbroken relation between CMO mass and the luminosity of their host galaxy spheroid. Equivalently, M_CMO is directly proportional to the host spheroid mass over 4 orders of magnitude. We note that this result has been simultaneously and independently identified by Cote et al. (2006), see also Ferrarese et al. (2006). We therefore suggest that the dE,N nuclei may be the low-mass analogs of supermassive black holes, and that these two types of CMO's may have both developed starting from similar initial formation processes. The overlap mass interval between the two types of CMO's is small, and suggests that for M_CMO > 10^7 M_sun, the formation of a black hole was strongly favored, perhaps because the initial gas infall to the center was too rapid and violent for star formation to occur efficiently.

publication date

  • June 10, 2006