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Supermassive black holes do not correlate with dark matter haloes of galaxies


Supermassive black holes have been detected in all galaxies that contain bulge components when the galaxies observed were close enough that the searches were feasible. Together with the observation that bigger black holes live in bigger bulges1,2,3,4, this has led to the belief that black-hole growth and bulge formation regulate each other5. That is, black holes and bulges coevolve. Therefore, reports6,7 of a similar correlation between black holes and the dark matter haloes in which visible galaxies are embedded have profound implications. Dark matter is likely to be non-baryonic, so these reports suggest that unknown, exotic physics controls black-hole growth. Here we show, in part on the basis of recent measurements8 of bulgeless galaxies, that there is almost no correlation between dark matter and parameters that measure black holes unless the galaxy also contains a bulge. We conclude that black holes do not correlate directly with dark matter. They do not correlate with galaxy disks, either9,10. Therefore, black holes coevolve only with bulges. This simplifies the puzzle of their coevolution by focusing attention on purely baryonic processes in the galaxy mergers that make bulges11.

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Figure 1: Outer rotation velocities versus near-central velocity dispersions of disk galaxies.
Figure 2: Correlations of dynamically measured black-hole masses with structural parameters of host galaxies.


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We thank S. Courteau for making available his surface photometry of NGC 801 (Supplementary Information) and J. Greene for helpful comments on the manuscript. The Hobby–Eberly Telescope (HET) is a joint project of the University of Texas at Austin, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. It is named in honour of its principal benefactors, W. P. Hobby and R. E. Eberly. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation.

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Both authors contributed to the analysis in this paper. J.K. wrote most of the text.

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Correspondence to John Kormendy.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kormendy, J., Bender, R. Supermassive black holes do not correlate with dark matter haloes of galaxies. Nature 469, 377–380 (2011).

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