Are Radio AGN Powered by Accretion or Black Hole Spin?
We compare accretion and black hole spin as potential energy sources for outbursts from AGN in brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs). We find that the distribution of AGN power estimated from X-ray cavities is consistent with a broad range of both spin parameter and accretion rate. Sufficient quantities of molecular gas are available in most BCGs to power their AGN by accretion alone. However, we find no correlation between AGN power and molecular gas mass. For a given AGN power, the BCG’s gas mass and accretion efficiency vary by more than two orders of magnitude. Most of the molecular gas in BCGs is apparently consumed by star formation or is driven out of the nucleus by the AGN before it reaches the nuclear black hole. Bondi accretion from hot atmospheres is generally unable to fuel powerful AGN, unless their black holes are more massive than their bulge luminosities imply. We identify several powerful AGN that reside in relatively gas-poor galaxies, indicating an unusually efficient mo