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Title: Black holes at the centers of nearby dwarf galaxies

Using a distance-limited portion of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 7, we have identified 28 active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in nearby (d⩽80 Mpc) low-mass, low-luminosity dwarf galaxies. The accreting objects at the galaxy centers are expected to be intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) with M{sub BH}⩽10{sup 6} M{sub ⊙}. The AGNs were selected using several optical emission-line diagnostics after careful modeling of the continuum present in the spectra. We have limited our survey to objects with spectral characteristics similar to those of Seyfert nuclei, excluding emission-line galaxies with ambiguous spectra that could be powered by stellar processes. Thus, as a set, the host galaxies in our sample are the least massive objects in the very local universe certain to contain central black holes. Our sample is dominated by narrow-line (type 2) AGNs, and it appears to have a much lower fraction of broad-line objects than that observed for luminous, optically selected Seyfert galaxies. Given our focus on the nearest objects included in the SDSS, our survey is more sensitive to low-luminosity emission than previous optical searches for AGNs in low-mass galaxies. The [O iii] λ5007 luminosities of the Seyfert nuclei in our sample have a median value ofmore » L{sub 5007}=2×10{sup 5} L{sub ⊙} and extend down to ∼10{sup 4} L{sub ⊙}. Using published data for broad-line IMBH candidates, we have derived an [O iii] bolometric correction of log(L{sub bol}/L{sub 5007})=3.0±0.3, which is significantly lower than values obtained for high-luminosity AGNs. Applying this correction to our sample, we obtain minimum black hole mass estimates that fall mainly in the 10{sup 3} M{sub ⊙}–10{sup 4} M{sub ⊙} range, which is roughly where the predicted mass functions for different black hole seed formation scenarios overlap the most. In the stellar mass range that includes the bulk of the AGN host galaxies in our sample, we derive a lower limit on the AGN fraction of a few percent, indicating that active nuclei in dwarf galaxies are not as rare as previously thought.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Astronomy Department, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459 (United States)
  2. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, The Pennsylvania State University, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22342198
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astronomical Journal (New York, N.Y. Online); Journal Volume: 148; Journal Issue: 6; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BLACK HOLES; BOLOMETERS; CORRECTIONS; DISTANCE; EMISSION; GALAXY NUCLEI; HOST; LUMINOSITY; MASS; SEYFERT GALAXIES; SPECTRA; UNIVERSE