How realistic UV spectra and X-rays suppress the abundance of direct collapse black holes

M. A. Latif, S. Bovino, T. Grassi, D. R.G. Schleicher, M. Spaans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Observations of high-redshift quasars at z > 6 indicate that they harbour supermassive black holes (SMBHs) of a billion solar masses. The direct collapse scenario has emerged as the most plausible way to assemble SMBHs. The nurseries for the direct collapse black holes are massive primordial haloes illuminated with an intense UV flux emitted by Population II (Pop II) stars. In this study, we compute the critical value of such a flux (J crit 21 ) for realistic spectra of Pop II stars through three-dimensional cosmological simulations. We derive the dependence of J crit 21 on the radiation spectra, on variations from halo to halo, and on the impact of X-ray ionization. Our findings show that the value of J crit 21 is a few times 104 and only weakly depends on the adopted radiation spectra in the range between Trad = 2 × 104and105 K. For three simulated haloes of a few times 107 M⊙, J crit 21 varies from 2 × 104 to 5 × 104. The impact of X-ray ionization is almost negligible and within the expected scatter of J crit 21 for background fluxes of JX, 21 ≤ 0.1. The computed estimates of J crit 21 have profound implications for the quasar abundance at z = 10 as it lowers the number density of black holes forming through an isothermal direct collapse by a few orders of magnitude below the observed black hole density. However, the sites with moderate amounts of H2 cooling may still form massive objects sufficient to be compatible with observations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3163-3177
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 21 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Early universe
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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