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Title: Discovery of a population of bulgeless galaxies with extremely red MID-IR colors: Obscured AGN activity in the low-mass regime?

In contrast to massive, bulge hosting galaxies, very few supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are known in either low-mass or bulgeless galaxies. Such a population could provide clues to the origins of SMBHs and to secular pathways for their growth. Using the all-sky Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE ) survey, and bulge-to-disk decompositions from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 7, we report the discovery of a population of local (z < 0.3) bulgeless disk galaxies with extremely red mid-infrared colors which are highly suggestive of a dominant active galactic nucleus (AGN), despite having no optical AGN signatures in their SDSS spectra. Using various mid-infrared selection criteria from the literature, there are between 30 and over 300 bulgeless galaxies with possible AGNs. Other known scenarios that can heat the dust to high temperatures do not appear to explain the observed colors of this sample. If these galaxies are confirmed to host AGNs, this study will provide a breakthrough in characterizing the properties of SMBHs in the low bulge mass regime and in understanding their relation with their host galaxies. Mid-infrared selection identifies AGNs that dominate their host galaxy's emission and therefore reveal a different AGN population than that uncoveredmore » by optical studies. We find that the fraction of all galaxies identified as candidate AGNs by WISE is highest at lower stellar masses and drops dramatically in higher mass galaxies, in striking contrast to the findings from optical studies.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences, George Mason University, MS 3F3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 (United States)
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 1A1 (Canada)
  3. Naval Research Laboratory, Remote Sensing Division, 4555 Overlook Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20375 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22357269
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 784; Journal Issue: 2; 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; COLOR; DECOMPOSITION; DUSTS; EMISSION; GALAXIES; GALAXY NUCLEI; GROWTH; INFRARED SURVEYS; INTERMEDIATE INFRARED RADIATION; MASS; SPECTRA