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: 6.73). 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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