The small contribution of quasars to reionization

Yuxiang Qin^{1}, Simon J. Mutch^{1}, Gregory B. Poole^{1}, Chuanwu Liu^{1}, Paul W. Angel^{1}, Alan R. Duffy^{2}, Paul M. Geil^{1}, Andrei Mesinger^{3} and J. Stuart B. Wyithe^{1}

abstract

Motivated by recent measurements of the number density of faint AGN at high redshift, we investigate the contribution of quasars to reionization by tracking the growth of central supermassive black holes in an update of the Meraxes semi-analytic model. The model is calibrated against the observed stellar mass function at z∼0.6−7, the black hole mass function at z≲0.5, the global ionizing emissivity at z∼2−5, and the Thomson scattering optical depth. The model reproduces a Magorrian relation in agreement with observations at z<0.5, and predicts a decreasing black hole mass towards higher redshifts at fixed total stellar mass. With the implementation of an opening angle of 80 degrees for quasar radiation, corresponding to an observable fraction of ∼23.4 per cent due to obscuration by dust, the model is able to reproduce the observed quasar luminosity function at z∼0.6−6. The stellar light from galaxies hosting faint AGN contributes a significant or dominant fraction of the UV flux. At high redshift, the model is consistent with the bright end quasar luminosity function and suggests that the recent faint z∼4 AGN sample compiled by Giallongo et al. (2015) includes a significant fraction of stellar light. Direct application of this luminosity function to the calculation of AGN ionizing emissivity consequently overestimates the number of ionizing photons produced by quasars by a factor of 3 at z∼6. We conclude that quasars are unlikely to make a significant contribution to reionization. Key words: methods: numerical — galaxies: formation — galaxies: high-redshift — galaxies: quasars: supermassive black holes

Motivated by recent measurements of the number density of faint AGN at high redshift, we investigate the contribution of quasars to reionization by tracking the growth of central supermassive black holes in an update of the Meraxes semi-analytic model. The model is calibrated against the observed stellar mass function at z∼0.6−7, the black hole mass function at z≲0.5, the global ionizing emissivity at z∼2−5, and the Thomson scattering optical depth. The model reproduces a Magorrian relation in agreement with observations at z<0.5, and predicts a decreasing black hole mass towards higher redshifts at fixed total stellar mass. With the implementation of an opening angle of 80 degrees for quasar radiation, corresponding to an observable fraction of ∼23.4 per cent due to obscuration by dust, the model is able to reproduce the observed quasar luminosity function at z∼0.6−6. The stellar light from galaxies hosting faint AGN contributes a significant or dominant fraction of the UV flux. At high redshift, the model is consistent with the bright end quasar luminosity function and suggests that the recent faint z∼4 AGN sample compiled by Giallongo et al. (2015) includes a significant fraction of stellar light. Direct application of this luminosity function to the calculation of AGN ionizing emissivity consequently overestimates the number of ionizing photons produced by quasars by a factor of 3 at z∼6. We conclude that quasars are unlikely to make a significant contribution to reionization. Key words: methods: numerical — galaxies: formation — galaxies: high-redshift — galaxies: quasars: supermassive black holes