616 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

    Active Galaxies and the Study of Black Hole Demographics

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    We discuss the critical importance of black hole mass indicators based on scaling relations in active galaxies. We highlight outstanding uncertainties in these methods and potential paths to substantial progress in the next decade.Comment: 4 pages, 1 figure, Invited review to appear in PAS

    Quasar feedback and the origin of radio emission in radio-quiet quasars

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    We conduct kinematic analysis of the SDSS spectra of 568 obscured luminous quasars, with the emphasis on the kinematic structure of the [OIII]5007 emission line. [OIII] emission tends to show blueshifts and blue excess, which indicates that at least part of the narrow-line gas is undergoing an organized outflow. The velocity width containing 90% of line power ranges from 370 to 4780 km/sec, suggesting outflow velocities up to 2000 km/sec. The velocity width of the [OIII] emission is positively correlated with the radio luminosity among the radio-quiet quasars. We propose that radio emission in radio-quiet quasars is due to relativistic particles accelerated in the shocks within the quasar-driven outflows; star formation in quasar hosts is insufficient to explain the observed radio emission. The median radio luminosity of the sample of nu L_nu[1.4GHz] = 10^40 erg/sec suggests a median kinetic luminosity of the quasar-driven wind of L_wind=3x10^44 erg/sec, or about 4% of the estimated median bolometric luminosity L_bol=8x10^45 erg/sec. Furthermore, the velocity width of [OIII] is positively correlated with mid-infrared luminosity, which suggests that outflows are ultimately driven by the radiative output of the quasar. As the outflow velocity increases, some emission lines characteristic of shocks in quasi-neutral medium increase as well, which we take as further evidence of quasar-driven winds propagating into the interstellar medium of the host galaxy. None of the kinematic components show correlations with the stellar velocity dispersions of the host galaxies, so there is no evidence that any of the gas in the narrow-line region of quasars is in dynamical equilibrium with the host galaxy. Quasar feedback appears to operate above the threshold luminosity of L_bol=3x10^45 erg/sec.Comment: 23 pages, accepted to MNRA

    Dwarf Galaxies with Optical Signatures of Active Massive Black Holes

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    We present a sample of 151 dwarf galaxies (10^8.5 < M_stellar < 10^9.5 Msun) that exhibit optical spectroscopic signatures of accreting massive black holes (BHs), increasing the number of known active galaxies in this stellar mass range by more than an order of magnitude. Utilizing data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 8 and stellar masses from the NASA-Sloan Atlas, we have systematically searched for active BHs in ~25,000 emission-line galaxies with stellar masses comparable to the Magellanic Clouds and redshifts z<0.055. Using the narrow-line [OIII]/H-beta versus [NII]/H-alpha diagnostic diagram, we find photoionization signatures of BH accretion in 136 galaxies, a small fraction of which also exhibit broad H-alpha emission. For these broad-line AGN candidates, we estimate BH masses using standard virial techniques and find a range of 10^5 < M_BH < 10^6 Msun and a median of M_BH ~ 2 x 10^5 Msun. We also detect broad H-alpha in 15 galaxies that have narrow-line ratios consistent with star-forming galaxies. Follow-up observations are required to determine if these are true type 1 AGN or if the broad H-alpha is from stellar processes. The median absolute magnitude of the host galaxies in our active sample is Mg = -18.1 mag, which is ~1-2 magnitudes fainter than previous samples of AGN hosts with low-mass BHs. This work constrains the smallest galaxies that can form a massive BH, with implications for BH feedback in low-mass galaxies and the origin of the first supermassive BH seeds.Comment: 26 pages, 15 figures, 6 tables. Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journa

    A Comprehensive Archival Chandra Search for X-ray Emission from Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies

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    We present the first comprehensive archival study of the X-ray properties of ultracompact dwarf (UCD) galaxies, with the goal of identifying weakly-accreting central black holes in UCDs. Our study spans 578 UCDs distributed across thirteen different host systems, including clusters, groups, fossil groups, and isolated galaxies. Of the 336 spectroscopically-confirmed UCDs with usable archival Chandra imaging observations, 21 are X-ray-detected. Imposing a completeness limit of LX>2×1038L_X>2\times10^{38} erg s−1^{-1}, the global X-ray detection fraction for the UCD population is ∼3%\sim3\%. Of the 21 X-ray-detected UCDs, seven show evidence of long-term X-ray time variability on the order of months to years. X-ray-detected UCDs tend to be more compact than non-X-ray-detected UCDs, and we find tentative evidence that the X-ray detection fraction increases with surface luminosity density and global stellar velocity dispersion. The X-ray emission of UCDs is fully consistent with arising from a population of low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). In fact, there are fewer X-ray sources than expected using a naive extrapolation from globular clusters. Invoking the fundamental plane of black hole activity for SUCD1 near the Sombrero galaxy, for which archival Jansky Very Large Array imaging at 5 GHz is publicly available, we set an upper limit on the mass of a hypothetical central black hole in that UCD to be ≲105M⊙\lesssim10^5M_{\odot}. While the majority of our sources are likely LMXBs, we cannot rule out central black holes in some UCDs based on X-rays alone, and so we address the utility of follow-up radio observations to find weakly-accreting central black holes.Comment: 20 pages, 6 figures, re-submitted to ApJ after minor revision

    Testing the presence of multiple photometric components in nearby early-type galaxies using SDSS

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    We investigate two-dimensional image decomposition of nearby, morphologically selected early-type galaxies (ETGs). We are motivated by recent observational evidence of significant size growth of quiescent galaxies and theoretical development advocating a two-phase formation scenario for ETGs. We find that a significant fraction of nearby ETGs show changes in isophotal shape that require multi-component models. The characteristic sizes of the inner and outer component are ∼3\sim 3 and ∼15\sim 15 kpc. The inner component lies on the mass-size relation of ETGs at z∼0.25−0.75z \sim 0.25-0.75, while the outer component tends to be more elliptical and hints at a stochastic buildup process. We find real physical differences between the single- and double-component ETGs, with the double-component galaxies being younger and more metal-rich. The fraction of double component ETGs increases with increasing σ\sigma and decreases in denser environments. We hypothesize that double-component systems were able to accrete gas and small galaxies until later times, boosting their central densities, building up their outer parts, and lowering their typical central ages. In contrast, the oldest galaxies, perhaps due to residing in richer environments, have no remaining hints of their last accretion episode.Comment: resubmitted to ApJ after referee's repor

    X-ray Properties of Intermediate-mass Black Holes in Active Galaxies. III. Spectral Energy Distribution and Possible Evidence for Intrinsically X-ray-weak AGNs

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    We present a systematic X-ray study, the third in a series, of 49 active galactic nuclei with intermediate-mass black holes (IMBH; ~10^5-10^6 M_sun) using Chandra observations. We detect 42 out of 49 targets with a 0.5-2 keV X-ray luminosity 10^41-10^43 erg/s. We perform spectral fitting for the 10 objects with enough counts (>200), and they are all well fit by a simple power-law model modified by Galactic absorption, with no sign of significant intrinsic absorption. While we cannot fit the X-ray spectral slope directly for the rest of the sample, we estimate it from the hardness ratio and find a range of photon indices consistent with those seen in more luminous and massive objects. The X-ray-to-optical spectral slope (alphaox) of our IMBH sample is systematically flatter than in active galaxies with more massive black holes, consistent with the well-known correlation between alphaox and UV luminosity. Thanks to the wide dynamic range of our sample, we find evidence that alphaox increases with decreasing M_BH as expected from accretion disk models, where the UV emission systematically decreases as M_BH decreases and the disk temperature increases. We also find a long tail toward low alphaox values. While some of these sources may be obscured, given the high L_bol/L_Eddington values in the sample, we argue that some may be intrinsically X-ray-weak, perhaps owing to a rare state that radiates very little coronal emission.Comment: 13 pages (double columns), 2 tables, 9 figures, ApJ accepte

    Similarity of ionized gas nebulae around unobscured and obscured quasars

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    Quasar feedback is suspected to play a key role in the evolution of massive galaxies, by removing or reheating gas in quasar host galaxies and thus limiting the amount of star formation. In this paper we continue our investigation of quasar-driven winds on galaxy-wide scales. We conduct Gemini Integral Field Unit spectroscopy of a sample of luminous unobscured (type 1) quasars, to determine the morphology and kinematics of ionized gas around these objects, predominantly via observations of the [O III]5007 emission line. We find that ionized gas nebulae extend out to ~13 kpc from the quasar, that they are smooth and round, and that their kinematics are inconsistent with gas in dynamical equilibrium with the host galaxy. The observed morphological and kinematic properties are strikingly similar to those of ionized gas around obscured (type 2) quasars with matched [O III] luminosity, with marginal evidence that nebulae around unobscured quasars are slightly more compact. Therefore in samples of obscured and unobscured quasars carefully matched in [O III] luminosity we find support for the standard geometry-based unification model of active galactic nuclei, in that the intrinsic properties of quasars, of their hosts and of their ionized gas appear to be very similar. Given the apparent ubiquity of extended ionized regions, we are forced to conclude that either the quasar is at least partially illuminating pre-existing gas or that both samples of quasars are seen during advanced stages of quasar feedback. In the latter case, we may be biased by our [O III]-based selection against quasars in the early "blow-out" phase, for example due to dust obscuration.Comment: 17 pages, 10 figures, 2 tables. Published in MNRAS, 201
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