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Title: SPATIALLY RESOLVED IMAGING AND SPECTROSCOPY OF CANDIDATE DUAL ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI

Abstract

When galaxies merge, both central supermassive black holes are immersed in a dense and chaotic environment. If there is sufficient gas in the nuclear regions, one expects to see close pairs of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), or dual AGNs, in a fraction of galaxy mergers. However, finding them remains a challenge. The presence of double-peaked [O iii] emission lines has been proposed as a technique to select dual AGNs efficiently. We studied a sample of double-peaked narrow [O iii] emitting AGNs from Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) DR7. By obtaining new and archival high spatial resolution images taken with the Keck II Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics system and the near-infrared camera NIRC2, we show that 30% of 140 double-peaked [O iii] emission line SDSS AGNs have two spatial components within a 3″ radius. However, spatially resolved spectroscopy or X-ray observations are needed to confirm these galaxy pairs as systems containing two AGNs. We followed up three spatially double candidate dual AGNs with integral field spectroscopy from Keck OSIRIS and 10 candidates with long-slit spectroscopy from the Shane Kast Double Spectrograph at Lick Observatory. We find that the double-peaked emission lines in our sample of 12 candidates are caused by:more » one dual AGN (SDSS J114642.47+511029.6), one confirmed outflow and four likely outflows, two pairs of star-forming galaxies, one candidate indeterminate due to sky line interference, and three AGNs with spatially coincident double [O iii] peaks, likely due to unresolved complex narrow line kinematics, outflows, binary AGN, or small-scale jets.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Astronomy Department and UCO-Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
  2. Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter Road, Weston Creek, ACT 2611 (Australia)
  3. Laguna Falls Institute for Astrophysics, Austin, TX 78746 (United States)
  4. Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22525428
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 811; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BINARY STARS; BLACK HOLES; CAMERAS; CHAOS THEORY; EMISSION SPECTROSCOPY; GALAXIES; GALAXY NUCLEI; IMAGES; INTERFERENCE; JETS; QUASARS; SPATIAL RESOLUTION; STAR EVOLUTION; X RADIATION

Citation Formats

McGurk, R. C., Max, C. E., Medling, A. M., Shields, G. A., and Comerford, J. M., E-mail: rosalie.mcgurk@gmail.com, E-mail: max@ucolick.org, E-mail: anne.medling@anu.edu.au, E-mail: shields@lfastro.org, E-mail: julie.comerford@colorado.edu. SPATIALLY RESOLVED IMAGING AND SPECTROSCOPY OF CANDIDATE DUAL ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/811/1/14.
McGurk, R. C., Max, C. E., Medling, A. M., Shields, G. A., & Comerford, J. M., E-mail: rosalie.mcgurk@gmail.com, E-mail: max@ucolick.org, E-mail: anne.medling@anu.edu.au, E-mail: shields@lfastro.org, E-mail: julie.comerford@colorado.edu. SPATIALLY RESOLVED IMAGING AND SPECTROSCOPY OF CANDIDATE DUAL ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/811/1/14.
McGurk, R. C., Max, C. E., Medling, A. M., Shields, G. A., and Comerford, J. M., E-mail: rosalie.mcgurk@gmail.com, E-mail: max@ucolick.org, E-mail: anne.medling@anu.edu.au, E-mail: shields@lfastro.org, E-mail: julie.comerford@colorado.edu. 2015. "SPATIALLY RESOLVED IMAGING AND SPECTROSCOPY OF CANDIDATE DUAL ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/811/1/14.
@article{osti_22525428,
title = {SPATIALLY RESOLVED IMAGING AND SPECTROSCOPY OF CANDIDATE DUAL ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI},
author = {McGurk, R. C. and Max, C. E. and Medling, A. M. and Shields, G. A. and Comerford, J. M., E-mail: rosalie.mcgurk@gmail.com, E-mail: max@ucolick.org, E-mail: anne.medling@anu.edu.au, E-mail: shields@lfastro.org, E-mail: julie.comerford@colorado.edu},
abstractNote = {When galaxies merge, both central supermassive black holes are immersed in a dense and chaotic environment. If there is sufficient gas in the nuclear regions, one expects to see close pairs of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), or dual AGNs, in a fraction of galaxy mergers. However, finding them remains a challenge. The presence of double-peaked [O iii] emission lines has been proposed as a technique to select dual AGNs efficiently. We studied a sample of double-peaked narrow [O iii] emitting AGNs from Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) DR7. By obtaining new and archival high spatial resolution images taken with the Keck II Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics system and the near-infrared camera NIRC2, we show that 30% of 140 double-peaked [O iii] emission line SDSS AGNs have two spatial components within a 3″ radius. However, spatially resolved spectroscopy or X-ray observations are needed to confirm these galaxy pairs as systems containing two AGNs. We followed up three spatially double candidate dual AGNs with integral field spectroscopy from Keck OSIRIS and 10 candidates with long-slit spectroscopy from the Shane Kast Double Spectrograph at Lick Observatory. We find that the double-peaked emission lines in our sample of 12 candidates are caused by: one dual AGN (SDSS J114642.47+511029.6), one confirmed outflow and four likely outflows, two pairs of star-forming galaxies, one candidate indeterminate due to sky line interference, and three AGNs with spatially coincident double [O iii] peaks, likely due to unresolved complex narrow line kinematics, outflows, binary AGN, or small-scale jets.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/811/1/14},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 811,
place = {United States},
year = 2015,
month = 9
}
  • Most massive galaxies contain supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in their cores. When galaxies merge, gas is driven to nuclear regions and can accrete onto the central black hole. Thus, one expects to see dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in a fraction of galaxy mergers. Candidates for galaxies containing dual AGNs have been identified by the presence of double-peaked narrow [O III] emission lines and by high spatial resolution images of close galaxy pairs. Spatially resolved spectroscopy is needed to confirm these galaxy pairs as systems with spatially separated double SMBHs. With the Keck 2 Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics systemmore » and the OH Suppressing InfraRed Imaging Spectrograph near-infrared integral field spectrograph, we obtained spatially resolved spectra for SDSS J09527.62+255257.2, a radio-quiet quasar shown by previous imaging to consist of a galaxy and its close (1.''0) companion. We find that the main galaxy is a Type 1 AGN with both broad and narrow AGN emission lines in its spectrum, while the companion galaxy is a Type 2 AGN with narrow emission lines only. The two AGNs are separated by 4.8 kpc, and their redshifts correspond to those of the double peaks of the [O III] emission line seen in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectrum. Line diagnostics indicate that both components of the double emission lines are due to AGN photoionization. These results confirm that J0952+2552 contains two spatially separated AGNs. As one of the few confirmed dual AGNs at an intermediate separation of <10 kpc, this system offers a unique opportunity to study galaxy mergers and their effect on black hole growth.« less
  • 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 [Ne V] {lambda}3426 or [Ne III] {lambda}3869. These sources were selected with the intention of identifying high-redshift analogs of the z < 0.8 active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with double-peaked [O III] {lambda}5007 lines, which might represent AGN outflows or dual AGNs. Lines of high ionization potential are believed to originate in the inner, highly photoionized portion of the narrow line region, and we exploit this assumption to investigate themore » possible kinematic origins of the double-peaked lines. For comparison, we measure the [Ne V] {lambda}3426 and [Ne III] {lambda}3869 double peaks in low-redshift (z < 0.8) [O III]-selected sources. We find that [Ne V] {lambda}3426 and [Ne III] {lambda}3869 show a correlation between line splitting and line width similar to that of [O III] {lambda}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-negligible 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 AGNs. Therefore, this study serves as a first attempt at extending the selection of candidate dual AGNs to higher redshifts.« less
  • We analyze the two-dimensional distribution and kinematics of the stars as well as molecular and ionized gas in the central few hundred parsecs of five active and five matched inactive galaxies. The equivalent widths of the Brγ line indicate that there is no ongoing star formation in their nuclei, although recent (terminated) starbursts are possible in the active galaxies. The stellar velocity fields show no signs of non-circular motions, while the 1-0 S(1) H{sub 2} kinematics exhibit significant deviations from simple circular rotation. In the active galaxies the H{sub 2} kinematics reveal inflow and outflow superimposed on disk rotation. Steady-statemore » circumnuclear inflow is seen in three active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and hydrodynamical models indicate it can be driven by a large-scale bar. In three of the five AGNs, molecular outflows are spatially resolved. The outflows are oriented such that they intersect, or have an edge close to, the disk, which may be the source of molecular gas in the outflow. The relatively low speeds imply the gas will fall back onto the disk, and with moderate outflow rates, they will have only a local impact on the host galaxy. H{sub 2} was detected in two inactive galaxies. These exhibit chaotic circumnuclear dust morphologies and have molecular structures that are counter-rotating with respect to the main gas component, which could lead to gas inflow in the near future. In our sample, all four galaxies with chaotic dust morphology in the circumnuclear region exist in moderately dense groups with 10-15 members where accretion of stripped gas can easily occur.« less
  • Active galaxies hosting two accreting and merging supermassive black holes (SMBHs)-dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs)-are predicted by many current and popular models of black-hole-galaxy co-evolution. We present here the results of a program that has identified a set of probable dual AGN candidates based on near-infrared laser guide star adaptive optics imaging with the Keck II telescope. These candidates are selected from a complete sample of radio-quiet quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which show double-peaked narrow AGN emission lines. Of the 12 AGNs imaged, we find 6 with double galaxy structure, of which fourmore » are in galaxy mergers. We measure the ionization of the two velocity components in the narrow AGN lines to test the hypothesis that both velocity components come from an active nucleus. The combination of a well-defined parent sample and high-quality imaging allows us to place constraints on the fraction of SDSS QSOs that host dual accreting black holes separated on kiloparsec scales: {approx}0.3%-0.65%. We derive from this fraction the time spent in a QSO phase during a typical merger and find a value that is much lower than estimates that arise from QSO space densities and galaxy merger statistics. We discuss possible reasons for this difference. Finally, we compare the SMBH mass distributions of single and dual AGNs and find little difference between the two within the limited statistics of our program, hinting that most SMBH growth happens in the later stages of a merger process.« less
  • Double-peaked [O III] profiles in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) may provide evidence for the existence of dual AGNs, but a good diagnostic for selecting them is currently lacking. Starting from approx7000 active galaxies in Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR7, we assemble a sample of 87 type 2 AGNs with double-peaked [O III] profiles. The nuclear obscuration in the type 2 AGNs allows us to determine redshifts of host galaxies through stellar absorption lines. We typically find that one peak is redshifted and another is blueshifted relative to the host galaxy. We find a strong correlation between the ratios of themore » shifts and the double peak fluxes. The correlation can be naturally explained by the Keplerian relation predicted by models of co-rotating dual AGNs. The current sample statistically favors that most of the [O III] double-peaked sources are dual AGNs and disfavors other explanations, such as rotating disk and outflows. These dual AGNs have a separation distance at approx1 kpc scale, showing an intermediate phase of merging systems. The appearance of dual AGNs is about approx10{sup -2}, impacting on the current observational deficit of binary supermassive black holes with a probability of approx10{sup -4} (Boroson and Lauer).« less