115 research outputs found

    Offset Active Galactic Nuclei as Tracers of Galaxy Mergers and Supermassive Black Hole Growth

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    Offset active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are AGNs that are in ongoing galaxy mergers, which produce kinematic offsets in the AGNs relative to their host galaxies. Offset AGNs are also close relatives of dual AGNs. We conduct a systematic search for offset AGNs in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, by selecting AGN emission lines that exhibit statistically significant line-of-sight velocity offsets relative to systemic. From a parent sample of 18314 Type 2 AGNs at z<0.21, we identify 351 offset AGN candidates with velocity offsets of 50 km/s < |v| < 410 km/s. When we account for projection effects in the observed velocities, we estimate that 4% - 8% of AGNs are offset AGNs. We designed our selection criteria to bypass velocity offsets produced by rotating gas disks, AGN outflows, and gravitational recoil of supermassive black holes, but follow-up observations are still required to confirm our candidates as offset AGNs. We find that the fraction of AGNs that are offset candidates increases with AGN bolometric luminosity, from 0.7% to 6% over the luminosity range 43 < log(L_bol) [erg/s] < 46. If these candidates are shown to be bona fide offset AGNs, then this would be direct observational evidence that galaxy mergers preferentially trigger high-luminosity AGNs. Finally, we find that the fraction of AGNs that are offset AGN candidates increases from 1.9% at z=0.1 to 32% at z=0.7, in step with the growth in the galaxy merger fraction over the same redshift range.Comment: 14 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication in Ap

    Spatially Offset Active Galactic Nuclei III: Discovery of Late-Stage Galaxy Mergers with The Hubble Space Telescope

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    Galaxy pairs with separations of only a few kpc represent important stages in the merger-driven growth of supermassive black holes (SMBHs). However, such mergers are difficult to identify observationally due to the correspondingly small angular scales. In Paper I we presented a method of finding candidate kpc-scale galaxy mergers that is leveraged on the selection of X-ray sources spatially offset from the centers of host galaxies. In this paper we analyze new Hubble Space Telescope (HST) WFC3 imaging for six of these sources to search for signatures of galaxy mergers. The HST imaging reveals that four of the six systems are on-going galaxy mergers with separations of 1.2-6.6 kpc (offset AGN). The nature of the remaining two spatially offset X-ray sources is ambiguous and may be associated with super-Eddington accretion in X-ray binaries. The ability of this sample to probe small galaxy separations and minor mergers makes it uniquely suited for testing the role of galaxy mergers for AGN triggering. We find that galaxy mergers with only one AGN are predominantly minor mergers with mass ratios similar to the overall population of galaxy mergers. By comparison, galaxy mergers with two AGN are biased toward major mergers and larger nuclear gas masses. Finally, we find that the level of SMBH accretion increases toward smaller mass ratios (major mergers). This result suggests the mass ratio effects not only the frequency of AGN triggering but also the rate of SMBH growth in mergers.Comment: 15 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journa

    The Observed Concentration-Mass Relation for Galaxy Clusters

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    The properties of clusters of galaxies offer key insights into the assembly process of structure in the universe. Numerical simulations of cosmic structure formation in a hierarchical, dark matter dominated universe suggest that galaxy cluster concentrations, which are a measure of a halo's central density, decrease gradually with virial mass. However, cluster observations have yet to confirm this correlation. The slopes of the run of measured concentrations with virial mass are often either steeper or flatter than predicted by simulations. In this work, we present the most complete sample of observed cluster concentrations and masses yet assembled, including new measurements for 10 strong lensing clusters, thereby more than doubling the existing number of strong lensing concentration estimates. We fit a power law to the observed concentrations as a function of virial mass, and find that the slope is consistent with the slopes found in simulations, though our normalization factor is higher. Observed lensing concentrations appear to be systematically larger than X-ray concentrations, a more pronounced effect than found in simulations. We also find that at fixed mass, the bulk of observed cluster concentrations are distributed log-normally, with the exception of a few anomalously high concentration clusters. We examine the physical processes likely responsible for the discrepancy between lensing and X-ray concentrations, and for the anomalously high concentrations in particular. The forthcoming Millennium simulation results will offer the most comprehensive comparison set to our findings of an observed concentration-mass power law relation.Comment: 12 pages, 7 figures, submitted to MNRA

    The Nature of Active Galactic Nuclei with Velocity Offset Emission Lines

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    We obtained Keck/OSIRIS near-IR adaptive optics-assisted integral-field spectroscopy to probe the morphology and kinematics of the ionized gas in four velocity-offset active galactic nuclei (AGNs) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These objects possess optical emission lines that are offset in velocity from systemic as measured from stellar absorption features. At a resolution of ~0.18", OSIRIS allows us to distinguish which velocity offset emission lines are produced by the motion of an AGN in a dual supermassive black hole system, and which are produced by outflows or other kinematic structures. In three galaxies, J1018+2941, J1055+1520 and J1346+5228, the spectral offset of the emission lines is caused by AGN-driven outflows. In the remaining galaxy, J1117+6140, a counterrotating nuclear disk is observed that contains the peak of Paα\alpha emission 0.2" from the center of the galaxy. The most plausible explanation for the origin of this spatially and kinematically offset peak is that it is a region of enhanced Paα\alpha emission located at the intersection zone between the nuclear disk and the bar of the galaxy. In all four objects, the peak of ionized gas emission is not spatially coincident with the center of the galaxy as traced by the peak of the near-IR continuum emission. The peaks of ionized gas emission are spatially offset from the galaxy centers by 0.1"-0.4" (0.1-0.7 kpc). We find that the velocity offset originates at the location of this peak of emission, and the value of the offset can be directly measured in the velocity maps. The emission-line ratios of these four velocity-offset AGNs can be reproduced only with a mixture of shocks and AGN photoionization. Shocks provide a natural explanation for the origin of the spatially and spectrally offset peaks of ionized gas emission in these galaxies.Comment: 14 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in Ap

    Dual Supermassive Black Hole Candidates in the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey

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    Dual supermassive black holes (SMBHs) with kiloparsec scale separations in merger-remnant galaxies are informative tracers of galaxy evolution, but the avenue for identifying them in large numbers for such studies is not yet clear. One promising approach is to target spectroscopic signatures of systems where both SMBHs are fueled as dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs), or where one SMBH is fueled as an offset AGN. Dual AGNs may produce double-peaked narrow AGN emission lines, while offset AGNs may produce single-peaked narrow AGN emission lines with line-of-sight velocity offsets relative to the host galaxy. We search for such dual and offset systems among 173 Type 2 AGNs at z<0.37 in the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES), and we find two double-peaked AGNs and five offset AGN candidates. When we compare these results to a similar search of the DEEP2 Galaxy Redshift Survey and match the two samples in color, absolute magnitude, and minimum velocity offset, we find that the fraction of AGNs that are dual SMBH candidates increases from z=0.25 to z=0.7 by a factor of ~6 (from 2/70 to 16/91, or 2.9% to 18%). This may be associated with the rise in the galaxy merger fraction over the same cosmic time. As further evidence for a link with galaxy mergers, the AGES offset and dual AGN candidates are tentatively ~3 times more likely than the overall AGN population to reside in a host galaxy that has a companion galaxy (from 16/173 to 2/7, or 9% to 29%). Follow-up observations of the seven offset and dual AGN candidates in AGES will definitively distinguish velocity offsets produced by dual SMBHs from those produced by narrow-line region kinematics, and will help sharpen our observational approach to detecting dual SMBHs.Comment: 10 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in Ap

    Identification of Outflows and Candidate Dual Active Galactic Nuclei in SDSS Quasars at z=0.8-1.6

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    We present a sample of 131 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at redshifts 0.8<z<1.6 with double peaks in either of the high-ionization narrow emission lines [NeV]3426 or [NeIII]3869. These sources were selected with the intention of identifying high-redshift analogs of the z<0.8 active galactic nuclei (AGN) with double-peaked [OIII]5007 lines, which might represent AGN outflows or dual AGN. Lines of high-ionization potential are believed to originate in the inner, highly photoionized portion of the narrow line region (NLR), and we exploit this assumption to investigate the possible kinematic origins of the double-peaked lines. For comparison, we measure the [NeV]3426 and [NeIII]3869 double peaks in low-redshift (z<0.8) [OIII]-selected sources. We find that [NeV]3426 and [NeIII]3869 show a correlation between line-splitting and line-width similar to that of [OIII]5007 in other studies; and the velocity-splittings are correlated with the quasar Eddington ratio. These results suggest an outflow origin for at least a subset of the double-peaks, allowing us to study the high-ionization gas kinematics around quasars. However, we find that a non-neligible fraction of our sample show no evidence for an ionization stratification. For these sources, the outflow scenario is less compelling, leaving the dual AGN scenario as a viable possibility. Finally, we find that our sample shows an anti-correlation between the velocity-offset ratio and luminosity ratio of the components, which is a potential dynamical argument for the presence of dual AGN. Therefore, this study serves as a first attempt at extending the selection of candidate dual AGN to higher redshifts.Comment: 19 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journa

    The Origin of Double-Peaked Narrow Lines in Active Galactic Nuclei III: Feedback from Biconical AGN Outflows

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    We apply an analytic Markov Chain Monte Carlo model to a sample of 18 AGN-driven biconical outflows that we identified from a sample of active galaxies with double-peaked narrow emission lines at z < 0.1 in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We find that 8/18 are best described as asymmetric bicones, 8/18 are nested bicones, and 2/18 are symmetric bicones. From the geometry and kinematics of the models, we find that these moderate-luminosity AGN outflows are large and energetic. The biconical outflows axes are randomly oriented with respect to the photometric major axis of the galaxy, implying a randomly oriented and clumpier torus to collimate the outflow, but the torus also allows some radiation to escape equatorially. We find that 16/18 (89%) outflows are energetic enough to drive a two-staged feedback process in their host galaxies. All of these outflows geometrically intersect the photometric major axis of the galaxy, and 23% of outflow host galaxies are significantly redder or have significantly lower specific star formation rates when compared to a matched sample of active galaxies.Comment: 32 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS; See Figure 7 for a summary of the finding
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