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Rapid growth of seed black holes in the early universe by supra-exponential accretion

Science  07 Aug 2014:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1251053

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Abstract

Mass accretion by black holes (BHs) is typically capped at the Eddington rate, when radiation's push balances gravity's pull. However, even exponential growth at the Eddington-limited e-folding time tE ~ few×0.01 Gyr, is too slow to grow stellar-mass BH seeds into the supermassive luminous quasars that are observed when the universe is 1 Gyr old. We propose a dynamical mechanism that can trigger supra-exponential accretion in the early universe, when a BH seed is trapped in a star cluster fed by the ubiquitous dense cold gas flows. The high gas opacity traps the accretion radiation, while the low-mass BH's random motions suppress the formation of a slowly draining accretion disk. Supra-exponential growth can thus explain the puzzling emergence of supermassive BHs that power luminous quasars so soon after the Big Bang.

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