A correlation between star formation rate and average black hole accretion in star-forming galaxies

Chien Ting J. Chen, Ryan C. Hickox, Stacey Alberts, Mark Brodwin, Christine Jones, Stephen S. Murray, David M. Alexander, Roberto J. Assef, Michael J.I. Brown, Arjun Dey, William R. Forman, Varoujan Gorjian, Andrew D. Goulding, Emeric Le Floc'H, Buell T. Jannuzi, James R. Mullaney, Alexandra Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


We present a measurement of the average supermassive black hole accretion rate (BHAR) as a function of the star formation rate (SFR) for galaxies in the redshift range 0.25 < z < 0.8. We study a sample of 1767 far-IR-selected star-forming galaxies in the 9 deg2 Boötes multi-wavelength survey field. The SFR is estimated using 250 μm observations from the Herschel Space Observatory, for which the contribution from the active galactic nucleus (AGN) is minimal. In this sample, 121 AGNs are directly identified using X-ray or mid-IR selection criteria. We combined these detected AGNs and an X-ray stacking analysis for undetected sources to study the average BHAR for all of the star-forming galaxies in our sample. We find an almost linear relation between the average BHAR (in M yr-1) and the SFR (in M yr-1) for galaxies across a wide SFR range 0.85 < log SFR < 2.56: log BHAR = (- 3.72 ± 0.52) + (1.05 ± 0.33)log SFR. This global correlation between SFR and average BHAR is consistent with a simple picture in which SFR and AGN activity are tightly linked over galaxy evolution timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: starburst
  • infrared: galaxies
  • X-rays: galaxies


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