Quiescent galaxies with little or no ongoing star formation dominate the population of galaxies with masses above 2 × 1010 times that of the Sun; the number of quiescent galaxies has increased by a factor of about 25 over the past ten billion years (refs 1, 2, 3, 4). Once star formation has been shut down, perhaps during the quasar phase of rapid accretion onto a supermassive black hole5,6,7, an unknown mechanism must remove or heat the gas that is subsequently accreted from either stellar mass loss8 or mergers and that would otherwise cool to form stars9,10. Energy output from a black hole accreting at a low rate has been proposed11,12,13, but observational evidence for this in the form of expanding hot gas shells is indirect and limited to radio galaxies at the centres of clusters14,15, which are too rare to explain the vast majority of the quiescent population16. Here we report bisymmetric emission features co-aligned with strong ionized-gas velocity gradients from which we infer the presence of centrally driven winds in typical quiescent galaxies that host low-luminosity active nuclei. These galaxies are surprisingly common, accounting for as much as ten per cent of the quiescent population with masses around 2 × 1010 times that of the Sun. In a prototypical example, we calculate that the energy input from the galaxy’s low-level active supermassive black hole is capable of driving the observed wind, which contains sufficient mechanical energy to heat ambient, cooler gas (also detected) and thereby suppress star formation.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Bell, E. F. et al. Nearly 5000 distant early-type galaxies in COMBO-17: a red sequence and its evolution since z ~ 1. Astrophys. J. 608, 752–767 (2004)
Bundy, K. et al. The mass assembly history of field galaxies: detection of an evolving mass limit for star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 651, 120–141 (2006)
Faber, S. M. et al. Galaxy luminosity functions to z ~ 1 from DEEP2 and COMBO-17: implications for red galaxy formation. Astrophys. J. 665, 265–294 (2007)
Ilbert, O. et al. Galaxy stellar mass assembly between 0.2 < z < 2 from the S-COSMO survey. Astrophys. J. 709, 644–663 (2010)
Di Matteo, T., Springel, V. & Hernquist, L. Energy input from quasars regulates the growth and activity of black holes and their host galaxies. Nature 433, 604–607 (2005)
Hopkins, P. F. et al. A unified, merger-driven model of the origin of starbursts, quasars, the cosmic X-ray background, supermassive black holes, and galaxy spheroids. Astrophys. J. 163, 1–49 (2006)
Heckman, T. M. & Best, P. N. The coevolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes: insights from surveys of the contemporary universe. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 52, 589–660 (2014)
Ciotti, L. & Ostriker, J. P. Cooling flows and quasars: different aspects of the same phenomenon? I. Concepts. Astrophys. J. 487, L105–L108 (1997)
Benson, A. J. et al. What shapes the luminosity function of galaxies? Astrophys. J. 599, 38–49 (2003)
Booth, C. M. & Schaye, J. The interaction between feedback from active galactic nuclei and supernovae. Sci. Rep. 3, 1738 (2013)
Croton, D. J. et al. The many lives of active galactic nuclei: cooling flows, black holes and the luminosities and colours of galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 365, 11–28 (2006)
Bower, R. G. et al. Breaking the hierarchy of galaxy formation. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 370, 645–655 (2006)
Ciotti, L., Ostriker, J. P. & Proga, D. Feedback from central black holes in elliptical galaxies. III. Models with both radiative and mechanical feedback. Astrophys. J. 717, 708–723 (2010)
Fabian, A. C. A very deep Chandra observation of the Perseus cluster: shocks, ripples and conduction. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 366, 417–428 (2006)
Fabian, A. C. Observational evidence of active galactic nuclei feedback. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 50, 455–489 (2012)
Lin, Y.-T. & Mohr, J. J. Radio sources in galaxy clusters: radial distribution, and 1.4 GHz and K-band bivariate luminosity function. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 170, 71–94 (2007)
Bundy, K. et al. Overview of the SDSS-IV MaNGA survey: mapping nearby galaxies at Apache Point observatory. Astrophys. J. 798, 7 (2015)
Yang, X. et al. Galaxy groups in the SDSS DR4. I. The catalog and basic properties. Astrophys. J. 671, 153–170 (2007)
Chang, Y.-Y., van der Wel, A., da Cunha, E. & Rix, H.-W. Stellar masses and star formation rates for 1M galaxies from SDSS+WISE. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 219, 8 (2015)
Sarzi, M. et al. The SAURON project — XVI. On the sources of ionization for the gas in elliptical and lenticular galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 402, 2187–2210 (2010)
Yan, R. & Blanton, M. R. The nature of LINER-like emission in red galaxies. Astrophys. J. 747, 61 (2012)
Belfiore, F. et al. P-MaNGA galaxies: emission-lines properties — the gas ionization and chemical abundances from prototype observations. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 449, 867–900 (2015)
Kehrig, C. et al. The ionized gas in the CALIFA early-type galaxies. Astron. Astrophys. 540, A11 (2012)
Allen, J. T. et al. The SAMI galaxy survey: unveiling the nature of kinematically offset active galactic nuclei. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 451, 2780–2792 (2015)
Gomes, J. M. et al. The warm ionized gas in CALIFA early-type galaxies: 2D emission-line patterns and kinematics for 32 galaxies. Astron. Astrophys. 588, A68 (2016)
Lagos, C. P. et al. The origin of the atomic and molecular gas contents of early-type galaxies — II. Misaligned gas accretion. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 448, 1271–1287 (2015)
Allen, M. G., Groves, B. A., Dopita, M. A., Sutherland, R. S. & Kewley, L. J. The MAPPINGS III library of fast radiative shock models. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 178, 20–55 (2008)
Ostriker, J. P., Choi, E., Ciotti, L., Novack, G. S. & Proga, D. Momentum driving: which physical processes dominate active galactic nucleus feedback? Astrophys. J. 722, 642–652 (2010)
Yuan, F. & Narayan, R. Hot accretions flows around black holes. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 52, 529–588 (2014)
Hopkins, P. F. et al. Mergers and bulge formation in ΛCDM: which mergers matter? Astrophys. J. 715, 202–229 (2010)
Drory, N. et al. The MaNGA integral field unit fiber feed system for the Sloan 2.5 m telescope. Astron. J. 149, 77 (2015)
Law, D. R. et al. Observing strategy for the SDSS-IV/MaNGA IFU galaxy survey. Astron. J. 150, 19 (2015)
Gunn, J. E. et al. The 2.5 m telescope of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Astron. J. 131, 2332–2359 (2006)
Blanton, M. http://www.nsatlas.org/data (2009; accessed 30 April 2016).
The MPA-JHU DR7 release of spectrum measurements. http://www.mpa-garching.mpg.de/SDSS/DR7/Data/stellarmass.html (2010; accessed 30 April 2016)
Oke, J. B. & Gunn, J. E. Secondary standard stars for absolute spectrophotometry. Astrophys. J. 266, 713–717 (1983)
Cappellari, M. & Emsellem, E. Parametric recovery of line-of-sight velocity distributions from absorption-line spectra of galaxies via penalized likelihood. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pacif. 116, 138–147 (2004)
Vazdekis, A. et al. MIUSCAT: extended MILES spectral coverage — I. Stellar population synthesis models. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 424, 157–171 (2012)
Yan, R. et al. On the origin of [OII] emission in red-sequence and poststarburst galaxies. Astrophys. J. 648, 281–298 (2006)
Harrison, C. M., Alexander, D. M., Mullaney, J. R. & Swinbank, A. M. Kiloparsec-scale outflows are prevalent among luminous AGN: outflows and feedback in the context of the overall AGN population. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 441, 3306–3347 (2014)
Fritz, J. et al. WINGS-SPE II: a catalog of stellar ages and star formation histories, stellar masses and dust extinction values for local clusters galaxies. Astron. Astrophys. 526, A45 (2011)
Fritz, J. et al. WINGS-SPE. III. Equivalent width measurements, spectral properties, and evolution of local cluster galaxies. Astron. Astrophys. 566, A32 (2014)
Chen, Y.-M. et al. Absorption-line probes of the prevalence and properties of outflows in present-day star-forming galaxies. Astron. J. 140, 445–461 (2010)
Springel, V. The cosmological simulation code GADGET-2. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 364, 1105–1134 (2005)
Peirani, S. et al. Composite star formation histories of early-type galaxies from minor mergers: prospects for WFC3. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 405, 2327–2338 (2010)
Cappellari, M. Measuring the inclination and mass-to-light ratio of axisymmetric galaxies via anisotropic Jeans models of stellar kinematics. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 390, 71–86 (2008)
Emsellem, E., Monnet, G. & Bacon, R. The multi-Gaussian expansion method: a tool for building realistic photometric and kinematical models of stellar systems I. The formalism. Astron. Astrophys. 285, 723–738 (1994)
Cappellari, M. Efficient multi-Gaussian expansion of galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 333, 400–410 (2002)
Navarro, J. F., Frenk, C. S. & White, S. D. M. The structure of cold dark matter halos. Astrophys. J. 462, 563–575 (1996)
Li, H. et al. Assessing the Jeans anisotropic multi-Gaussian expansion method with the Illustris simulation. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 455, 3680–3692 (2016)
Andersen, D. R. & Bershady, M. A. The photometric and kinematic structure of face-on disk galaxies. III. Kinematic inclinations from Hα velocity fields. Astrophys. J. 768, 41 (2013)
Peng, C. Y., Ho, L. C., Impey, C. D. & Rix, H.-W. Detailed structural decomposition of galaxy images. Astron. J. 124, 266–293 (2002)
Bershady, M. A. et al. Galaxy disks are submaximal. Astrophys. J. 739, L47 (2011)
Tohline, J. E., Simonson, G. F. & Caldwell, N. Using gaseous disks to probe the geometric structure of elliptical galaxies. Astrophys. J. 252, 92–101 (1982)
van de Voort, F. et al. The creation and persistence of a misaligned gas disc in a simulated early-type galaxy. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 451, 3269–3277 (2015)
Bouché, N. et al. Physical properties of galactic winds using background quasars. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 426, 801–815 (2012)
Dehnen, W. & Gerhard, O. E. Two-integral models of oblate elliptical galaxies with cusps. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 268, 1019–1032 (1994)
Becker, R. H., White, R. L. & Helfand, D. J. The FIRST survey: faint images of the radio sky at twenty centimeters. Astrophys. J. 450, 559–577 (1995)
Kennicutt, R. C. & Evans, N. J. Star formation in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 50, 531–608 (2012)
Best, P. N. & Heckman, T. M. On the fundamental dichotomy in the local radio-AGN population: accretion, evolution and host galaxy properties. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 421, 1569–1582 (2012)
Heckman, T. M. et al. Present-day growth of black holes and bulges: the Sloan Digital Sky Survey perspective. Astrophys. J. 613, 109–118 (2004)
Cavagnolo, K. W. et al. A relationship between AGN jet power and radio power. Astrophys. J. 720, 1066–1072 (2010)
McConnell, N. J. & Ma, C.-P. Revisiting the scaling relations of black hole masses and host galaxy properties. Astrophys. J. 764, 184 (2013)
Osterbrock, D. E. Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei (University Science Books, Mill Valley, 1989)
Genzel, R. et al. The SINS survey of z ~ 2 galaxy kinematics: properties of the giant star-forming clumps. Astrophys. J. 733, 101 (2011)
Carniani, S. et al. Ionised outflows in z ~ 2.4 quasar host galaxies. Astron. Astrophys. 580, A102 (2015)
Sutherland, R. S. & Dopita, M. A. Cooling functions for low-density astrophysical plasmas. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 88, 253–327 (1993)
Bohlin, R. C., Savage, B. D. & Drake, J. F. A survey of interstellar H I from L-alpha absorption measurements. II. Astrophys. J. 224, 132–142 (1978)
Kennicutt, R. C. Jr et al. Star formation in NGC 5194 (M51a). II. The spatially resolved star formation law. Astrophys. J. 671, 333–348 (2007)
Bershady, M. A. et al. The DiskMass survey. I. Overview. Astrophys. J. 716, 198–233 (2010)
We are grateful to Y.-Y. Chang for checks on the SED fitting and implied SFR. We thank S. Juneau, J. Newman, H. Fu, K. Nyland, and S. F. Sánchez for discussions and comments. This work was supported by the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI Initiative), MEXT, Japan, and JSPS KAKENHI grant no. 15K17603. A.W. acknowledges support of a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. S.P. acknowledges support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS long-term invitation fellowship). M.C. acknowledges support from a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. W.R. is supported by a CUniverse Grant (CUAASC) from Chulalongkorn University. Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV (SDSS-VI) has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the US Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. SDSS-IV acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS website is www.sdss.org. SDSS-IV is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration, including the Brazilian Participation Group, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, the Chilean Participation Group, the French Participation Group, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, The Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU)/University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), National Astronomical Observatory of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, University of Notre Dame, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, UK Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oxford, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Extended data figures and tables
The estimated A(V) map (with A(V) colour coded, see key), with contours of Na D EW >3.5 Å from Fig. 1d. The spatial overlap between regions of high extinction and the Na D EW absorption confirms that there is cool material in the foreground of Akira. Here and below, axes show offset in arcsec from map centre, marked with a cross.
a–c, The spectrum around the Na D doublet at λ = 5,890, 5,896 Å and best-fit stellar continuum. The two vertical lines mark the locations of the Na D doublet. d–f, The residual of the spectrum and stellar continuum. Considering only the wavelength range enclosed by the green region, we calculate the residual-weighted central wavelengths of these Na D doublets, which is marked by the dashed grey vertical line and blue vertical lines. The dashed grey vertical represents the reference Na D centroid while the blue vertical lines represent the observed Na D centroid from the two spaxels of Akira. See Methods for details. The horizontal dashed line is a reference point and the Δv in e and f represents the residual-weighted velocities. Data in a from ref. 43 with permission.
a–d, Evolution of the stars from t = 0 Gyr to t = 0.56 Gyr; each panel is 90 × 90 kpc. e, Composite image of stars and gas at t = 0.56 Gyr; this panel is also 90 × 90 kpc. f, The SDSS r image of Akira and Tetsuo.
a, Observed Vrms map (key at top shows colour coded Vrms). b, Predicted Vrms map, assuming i = 46°. c, Predicted Vrms map, assuming i = 90°.
About this article
Cite this article
Cheung, E., Bundy, K., Cappellari, M. et al. Suppressing star formation in quiescent galaxies with supermassive black hole winds. Nature 533, 504–508 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18006
Nature Astronomy (2021)
Astrophysics and Space Science (2021)
Nature Astronomy (2020)