Kiloparsec-scale Spatial Offsets in Double-peaked Narrow-line Active Galactic Nuclei. I. Markers for Selection of Compelling Dual Active Galactic Nucleus Candidates

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.28). 11/2011; 753(1). DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/753/1/42
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Merger-remnant galaxies with kpc-scale separation dual active galactic nuclei
(AGNs) should be widespread as a consequence of galaxy mergers and triggered
gas accretion onto supermassive black holes, yet very few dual AGNs have been
observed. Galaxies with double-peaked narrow AGN emission lines in the Sloan
Digital Sky Survey are plausible dual AGN candidates, but their double-peaked
profiles could also be the result of gas kinematics or AGN-driven outflows and
jets on small or large scales. To help distinguish between these scenarios, we
have obtained spatial profiles of the AGN emission via follow-up long-slit
spectroscopy of 81 double-peaked narrow-line AGNs in SDSS at 0.03 < z < 0.36
using Lick, Palomar, and MMT Observatories. We find that all 81 systems exhibit
double AGN emission components with ~kpc projected spatial separations on the
sky, which suggests that they are produced by kpc-scale dual AGNs or kpc-scale
outflows, jets, or rotating gaseous disks. In addition, we find that the
subsample (58%) of the objects with spatially compact emission components may
be preferentially produced by dual AGNs, while the subsample (42%) with
spatially extended emission components may be preferentially produced by AGN
outflows. We also find that for 32% of the sample the two AGN emission
components are preferentially aligned with the host galaxy major axis, as
expected for dual AGNs orbiting in the host galaxy potential. Our results both
narrow the list of possible physical mechanisms producing the double AGN
components, and suggest several observational criteria for selecting the most
promising dual AGN candidates from the full sample of double-peaked narrow-line
AGNs. Using these criteria, we determine the 17 most compelling dual AGN
candidates in our sample.

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    ABSTRACT: 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 18,314 Type 2 AGNs at z < 0.21, we identify 351 offset AGN candidates with velocity offsets of 50 km s–1 < |Δv| < 410 km s–1. 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–1] <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.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2014; 789(2):112. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/789/2/112 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2014; 443(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1234 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SDSS J150243.09+111557.3 is a merging system at z = 0.39 that hosts two confirmed AGN, one unobscured and one dust-obscured, offset by several kiloparsecs. Deane et al. recently reported evidence from the European VLBI Network (EVN) that the dust-obscured AGN exhibits two flat-spectrum radio sources, J1502SE/SW, offset by 26 mas (140 pc), with each source being energized by its own supermassive black hole (BH). This intriguing interpretation of a close binary BH was reached after ruling out a double-hotspot scenario, wherein both hotspots are energized by a single, central BH, a configuration occuring in the well-studied Compact Symmetric Objects. When observed with sufficient sensitivity and resolution, an object with double hotspots should have an edge-brightened structure. We report evidence from the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) for just such a structure in an image of the obscured AGN with higher sensitivity and resolution than the EVN images. We thus conclude that a double-hotspot scenario should be reconsidered as a viable interpretation for J1502SE/SW, and suggest further VLBA tests of that scenario. A double-hotspot scenario could have broad implications for feedback in obscured AGNs. We also report a VLBA detection of high-brightness-temperature emssion from the unobscured AGN that is offset several kiloparsecs from J1502SE/SW.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 07/2014; 792(1). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/792/1/L8 · 5.60 Impact Factor


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