Radiation, winds, and jets from the active nucleus of a massive galaxy can interact with its interstellar medium, and this can lead to ejection or heating of the gas. This terminates star formation in the galaxy and stifles accretion onto the black hole. Such active galactic nuclei (AGN) feedback can account for the observed proportionality between the central black hole and the host galaxy mass. Direct observational evidence for the radiative or quasar mode of feedback, which occurs when AGN are very luminous, has been difficult to obtain but is accumulating from a few exceptional objects. Feedback from the kinetic or radio mode, which uses the mechanical energy of radio-emitting jets often seen when AGN are operating at a lower level, is common in massive elliptical galaxies. This mode is well observed directly through X-ray observations of the central galaxies of cool core clusters in the form of bubbles in the hot surrounding medium. The energy flow, which is roughly continuous, heats the hot intracluster gas and reduces radiative cooling and subsequent star formation by an order of magnitude. Feedback appears to maintain a long-lived heating/cooling balance. Powerful, jetted radio outbursts may represent a further mode of energy feedback that affects the cores of groups and subclusters. New telescopes and instruments from the radio to X-ray bands will come into operation over the next several years and lead to a rapid expansion in observational data on all modes of AGN feedback.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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