Determination of the intrinsic scatter in the M–σ and M–L relations

We report on recently derived improved versions of the relations between supermassive black hole mass (M_BH) and host-galaxy bulge velocity dispersion (sigma) and luminosity (L) (the M-sigma and M-L relations), based on ~50 M_BH measurements and ~20 upper limits. Particular attention is paid to recovery of the intrinsic scatter (epsilon_0) in both relations. The scatter was found to be significantly larger than estimated in most previous studies. The large scatter requires revision of the local black hole mass function, and it implies that there may be substantial selection bias in studies of the evolution of the M-sigma and M-L relations. When only considering ellipticals, the scatter appears to decrease. These results appear to be insensitive to a wide range of assumptions about the measurement errors and the distribution of intrinsic scatter. We also report on the effects on the fits of culling the sample according to the resolution of the black hole’s sphere of influence.