Obscured and Unobscured Active Galactic Nuclei in the Spitzer Space Telescope First Look Survey

The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (Impact Factor: 14.14). 12/2008; 154(1):166. DOI: 10.1086/422816
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Selection of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in the infrared facilitates the discovery of AGNs whose optical emission is extinguished by dust. In this paper, we use the Spitzer Space Telescope First Look Survey (FLS) to assess the fraction of AGNs with mid-infrared (MIR) luminosities that are comparable to quasars and that are missed in optical quasar surveys because of dust obscuration. We begin by using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) database to identify 54 quasars within the 4 deg2 extragalactic FLS. These quasars occupy a distinct region in MIR color space by virtue of their strong, red continua. This has allowed us to define an MIR color criterion for selecting AGN candidates. About 2000 FLS objects have colors that are consistent with them being AGNs, but most are much fainter in the MIR than the SDSS quasars, which typically have 8 μm flux densities S8.0 ~ 1 mJy. We have investigated the properties of 43 objects with S8.0 ≥ 1 mJy that satisfy our AGN color selection. This sample should contain both unobscured quasars as well as AGNs that are absent from the SDSS survey because of extinction in the optical. After removing 16 known quasars, three probable normal quasars, and eight spurious or confused objects from the initial sample of 43, we are left with 16 objects that are likely to be obscured quasars or luminous Seyfert 2 galaxies. This suggests that the numbers of obscured and unobscured AGNs are similar in samples selected in the MIR at S8.0 ~ 1 mJy.

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    ABSTRACT: We calculate the angular correlation function for a sample of ~170,000 active galactic nuclei (AGNs) extracted from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) catalog, selected to have red mid-IR colors (W1 – W2 > 0.8) and 4.6 μm flux densities brighter than 0.14 mJy). The sample is expected to be >90% reliable at identifying AGNs and to have a mean redshift of z = 1.1. In total, the angular clustering of WISE AGNs is roughly similar to that of optical AGNs. We cross-match these objects with the photometric Sloan Digital Sky Survey catalog and distinguish obscured sources with r – W2 > 6 from bluer, unobscured AGNs. Obscured sources present a higher clustering signal than unobscured sources. Since the host galaxy morphologies of obscured AGNs are not typical red sequence elliptical galaxies and show disks in many cases, it is unlikely that the increased clustering strength of the obscured population is driven by a host galaxy segregation bias. By using relatively complete redshift distributions from the COSMOS survey, we find that obscured sources at z ~ 0.9 have a bias of b = 2.9 ± 0.6 and are hosted in dark matter halos with a typical mass of log (M/M ☉h –1) ~ 13.5. In contrast, unobscured AGNs at z ~ 1.1 have a bias of b = 1.6 ± 0.6 and inhabit halos of log (M/M ☉h –1) ~ 12.4. These findings suggest that obscured AGNs inhabit denser environments than unobscured AGNs, and they are difficult to reconcile with the simplest AGN unification models, where obscuration is driven solely by orientation.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2014; 789(1):44. · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an analysis of four complete samples of radio-loud active galactic nucleus (AGN; 3CRR, 2Jy, 6CE and 7CE) using near- and mid-IR data taken by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The combined sample consists of 79 quasars and 273 radio galaxies, and covers a redshift range 0.003 < z < 3.395. The dichotomy in the mid-IR properties of low- and high-excitation radio galaxies (LERGs and HERGs) is analysed for the first time using large complete samples. Our results demonstrate that a division in the accretion modes of LERGs and HERGs clearly stands out in the mid-IR-radio plane (L22 μm = 5 × 1043 erg s-1). This means that WISE data can be effectively used to diagnose accretion modes in radio-loud AGN. The mid-IR properties of all objects were analysed to test the unification between quasars and radio galaxies, consistent with earlier work, and we argue that smooth torus models best reproduce the observation. Quasars are found to have higher mid-IR luminosities than radio galaxies. We also studied all the sources in the near-IR to gain insights into evolution of AGN host galaxies. A relation found between the near-IR luminosity and redshift, well known in the near-IR, is apparent in the two near-IR WISE bands, supporting the idea that radio sources are hosted by massive elliptical galaxies that formed their stars at high redshifts and evolved passively thereafter. Evaluation of the positions of the sample objects in WISE colour-colour diagrams shows that widely used WISE colour cuts are not completely reliable in selecting AGN.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2014; · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We review results from cosmic X-ray surveys of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) over the past ~ 15 yr that have dramatically improved our understanding of growing supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in the distant universe. First, we discuss the utility of such surveys for AGN investigations and the capabilities of the missions making these surveys, emphasizing Chandra, XMM-Newton, and NuSTAR. Second, we briefly describe the main cosmic X-ray surveys, the essential roles of complementary multiwavelength data, and how AGNs are selected from these surveys. We then review key results from these surveys on the AGN population and its evolution ("demographics"), the physical processes operating in AGNs ("physics"), and the interactions between AGNs and their environments ("ecology"). We conclude by describing some significant unresolved questions and prospects for advancing the field.

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