We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof David Alexander

Goulding, A. D., Matthaey, E., Greene, J. E., Hickox, R. C., Alexander, D. M., Forman, W. R., Jones, C., Lehmer, B. D., Griffis, S., Kanek, S. & Oulmakki, M. (2017). Galaxy-scale Bars in Late-type Sloan Digital Sky Survey Galaxies Do Not Influence the Average Accretion Rates of Supermassive Black Holes. The Astrophysical Journal 843(2): 135.

Author(s) from Durham


Galaxy-scale bars are expected to provide an effective means for driving material toward the central region in spiral galaxies, and possibly feeding supermassive black holes (BHs). Here we present a statistically complete study of the effect of bars on average BH accretion. From a well-selected sample of 50,794 spiral galaxies (with ${M}_{* }\sim 0.2\mbox{--}30\times {10}^{10}\,{M}_{\odot }$) extracted from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Galaxy Zoo 2 project, we separate those sources considered to contain galaxy-scale bars from those that do not. Using archival data taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, we identify X-ray luminous (${L}_{{\rm{X}}}\gtrsim {10}^{41}\,\mathrm{erg}\,{{\rm{s}}}^{-1}$) active galactic nuclei and perform an X-ray stacking analysis on the remaining X-ray undetected sources. Through X-ray stacking, we derive a time-averaged look at accretion for galaxies at fixed stellar mass and star-formation rate, finding that the average nuclear accretion rates of galaxies with bar structures are fully consistent with those lacking bars (${\dot{M}}_{\mathrm{acc}}\approx 3\times {10}^{-5}$ ${M}_{\odot }$ yr−1). Hence, we robustly conclude that large-scale bars have little or no effect on the average growth of BHs in nearby ($z\lt 0.15$) galaxies over gigayear timescales.