The population of massive black holes in the local Universe, as well as the Active Galactic Nuclei that we detect at higher redshift are the result of the interplay between black hole formation, feeding and feedback.

BLACK starts as a theoretical endeavour, but we cast our results in terms of observables, tailored to existing and future facilities, in order to guide the interpretation of datasets, and propose observational diagnostics to test theoretical models.

We work closely with observers, and our theoretical work lends itself to be used for planning and interpreting current and future observations.

Black hole mass versus galaxy stellar mass for a sample of local quiescent and active black holes. From Reines & Volonteri (2015, ApJ, 813, 82).

We are looking at the way black hole mass scales with the mass of the host galaxy, and using this observation on the one hand to constrain our theoretical models, on the other hand to infer how, and when, this scaling was established.

Black hole mass versus galaxy stellar mass. Dark and light blue points are quiescent and active black holes from Reines & Volonteri shown above. The yellow points are black holes in a high-resolution hydrodynamical cosmological simulation (Habouzit et al. in prep.) From Volonteri et al., proceeding of the IAU symposium No. 319.

For instance, Habouzit et al.  find that black holes in small galaxies are unable to grow because of the interplay between supernova and black hole feedback, very effective in small galaxies’ potential wells. Once a galaxy has become sufficiently massive to contrast outflows, its black hole can grow unimpeded.