The Relation between Quasar and Merging Galaxy Luminosity Functions and the Merger‐driven Star Formation History of the Universe
Using a model for self-regulated growth of black holes (BHs) in mergers involving gas-rich galaxies, we study the relationship between quasars and the population of merging galaxies and predict the merger-induced star formation rate density of the Universe. Mergers drive nuclear gas inflows, fueling starbursts and 'buried quasars' until accretion feedback expels the gas, rendering a briefly visible optical quasar. Star formation is shut down and accretion declines, leaving a passively evolving
... passively evolving remnant with properties typical of red, elliptical galaxies. Based on evolution of these events in our simulations, we demonstrate that the observed statistics of merger rates, luminosity functions (LFs) and mass functions, SFR distributions, specific SFRs, quasar and quasar host galaxy LFs, and elliptical/red galaxy LFs are self-consistent and follow from one another as predicted by the merger hypothesis. We use our simulations to de-convolve both quasar and merging galaxy LFs to determine the birthrate of black holes of a given final mass and merger rates as a function of stellar mass. We use this to predict the merging galaxy LF in several observed wavebands, color-magnitude relations, mass functions, absolute and specific SFR distributions and SFR density, and quasar host galaxy LFs, as a function of redshift from z=0-6. We invert this and predict e.g. quasar LFs from observed merger LFs or SFR distributions. Our results agree well with observations, but idealized models of quasar lightcurves are ruled out by comparison of merger and quasar observations at >99.9% confidence. Using only observations of quasars, we estimate the contribution of mergers to the SFR density of the Universe even to high redshifts z~4.