7 corrected reference
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The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri &, Silk & Dubus (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri, Silk & Dubus (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

6 major typo in equation!
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The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[-t/\tau],$$$$ M = M_{0} \exp[t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[-t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

5 added 171 characters in body
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The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from atnear the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors. Thus and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the processa dnprocess and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[-t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - all of whichthere are fairly speculative at presenta number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from at the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors. Thus there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the processa dn the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[-t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years. The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - all of which are fairly speculative at present.

The accretion of matter onto a compact object cannot take place at an unlimited rate. There is a negative feedback caused by radiation pressure.

If a source has a luminosity $L$, then there is a maximum luminosity - the Eddington luminosity - which is where the radiation pressure balances the inward gravitational forces.

The size of the Eddington luminosity depends on the opacity of the material. For pure ionised hydrogen and Thomson scattering $$ L_{Edd} = 1.3 \times 10^{31} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}\ W$$

Suppose that material fell onto a black hole from infinity and was spherically symmetric. If the gravitational potential energy was converted entirely into radiation just before it fell beneath the event horizon, the "accretion luminosity" would be $$L_{acc} = \frac{G M_{BH}}{R}\frac{dM}{dt},$$ where $M_{BH}$ is the black hole mass, $R$ is the radius from which the radiation is emitted (must be greater than the Schwarzschild radius) and $dM/dt$ is the accretion rate.

If we say that $L_{acc} \leq L_{Edd}$ then $$ \frac{dM}{dt} \leq 1.3 \times10^{31} \frac{M_{BH}}{M_{\odot}} \frac{R}{GM_{BH}} \simeq 10^{11}\ R\ kg/s \sim 10^{-3} \frac{R}{R_{\odot}}\ M_{\odot}/yr$$

Now, not all the GPE gets radiated, some of it could fall into the black hole. Also, whilst the radiation does not have to come from near the event horizon, the radius used in the equation above cannot be too much larger than the event horizon. However, the fact is that material cannot just accrete directly into a black hole without radiating; because it has angular momentum, an accretion disc will be formed and will radiate away lots of energy - this is why we see quasars and AGN -, thus both of these effects must be small numerical factors and there is some maximum accretion rate.

To get some numerical results we can absorb our uncertainty as to the efficiency of the process and the radius at which the luminosity is emitted into a general ignorance parameter called $\eta$, such that $$L_{acc} = \eta c^2 \frac{dM}{dt}$$ i.e what fraction of the rest mass energy is turned into radiation. Then, equating this to the Eddington luminosity we have $$\frac{dM}{dt} = (1-\eta) \frac{1.3\times10^{31}}{\eta c^2} \frac{M}{M_{\odot}}$$ which gives $$ M = M_{0} \exp[-t/\tau],$$ where $\tau = 4\times10^{8} \eta/(1-\eta)$ years (often termed the Salpeter (1964) growth timescale). The problem is that $\eta$ needs to be pretty big in order to explain the luminosities of quasars, but this also implies that they cannot grow extremely rapidly. I am not fully aware of the arguments that surround the work you quote, but depending on what you assume for the "seed" of the supermassive black hole, you may only have a few to perhaps 10 e-folding timescales to get you up to $10^{10}$ solar masses. I guess this is where the problem lies. $\eta$ needs to be very low to achieve growth rates from massive stellar black holes to supermassive black holes, but this can only be achieved in slow-spinning black holes, which are not thought to exist!

A nice summary of the problem is given in the introduction of Volonteri & Silk (2014). These authors also review some of the solutions that might allow Super-Eddington accretion and shorter growth timescales - there are a number of good ideas, but none has emerged as a front-runner yet.

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