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Conference Papers Year : 2014

The Multiwavelength AGN Population and the X-ray Background

Ezequiel Treister
  • Function : Author
Claudia M. Urry
  • Function : Author
Kevin Schawinski
  • Function : Author
Brooke D. Simmons
  • Function : Author
Priyamvada Natarajan
Marta Volonteri


In order to fully understand galaxy formation we need to know when in the cosmic history are supermassive black holes (SMBHs) growing more intensively, in what type of galaxies this growth is happening and what fraction of these sources are invisible at most wavelengths due to obscuration. Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) population synthesis models that can explain the spectral shape and intensity of the cosmic X-ray background (CXRB) indicate that most of the SMBH growth occurs in moderate-luminosity (L X ~ 1044 erg/s) sources (Seyfert-type AGN), at z~ 0.5-1 and in heavily obscured but Compton-thin, NH ~ 1023cm-2, systems. However, this is not the complete history, as a large fraction of black hole growth does not emit significantly in X-rays either due to obscuration, intrinsic low luminosities or large distances. The integrated intensity at high energies indicates that a significant fraction of the total black hole growth, 22%, occurs in heavily-obscured systems that are not individually detected in even the deepest X-ray observations. We further investigate the AGN triggering mechanism as a function of bolometric luminosity, finding evidence for a strong connection between significant black hole growth events and major galaxy mergers from z~ 0 to z~ 3, while less spectacular but longer accretion episodes are most likely due to other (stochastic) processes. AGN activity triggered by major galaxies is responsible for ~60% of the total black hole growth. Finally, we constrain the total accreted mass density in supermassive black holes at z > 6, inferred via the upper limit derived from the integrated X-ray emission from a sample of photometrically selected galaxy candidates. We estimate an accreted mass density <1000 MMpc-3 at z~ 6, significantly lower than the previous predictions from some existing models of early black hole growth and earlier prior observations.

Dates and versions

insu-03645370 , version 1 (19-04-2022)



Ezequiel Treister, Claudia M. Urry, Kevin Schawinski, Brooke D. Simmons, Priyamvada Natarajan, et al.. The Multiwavelength AGN Population and the X-ray Background. Multiwavelength AGN Surveys and Studies, Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, IAU Symposium, 2014, à renseigner, Unknown Region. pp.188-194, ⟨10.1017/S1743921314003731⟩. ⟨insu-03645370⟩
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