A hard X-ray view of luminous and ultra-luminous infrared galaxies in GOALS – I. AGN obscuration along the merger sequence
ABSTRACT The merger of two or more galaxies can enhance the inflow of material from galactic scales into the close environments of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), obscuring and feeding the supermassive black hole (SMBH). Both recent simulations and observations of AGN in mergers have confirmed that mergers are related to strong nuclear obscuration. However, it is still unclear how AGN obscuration evolves in the last phases of the merger process. We study a sample of 60 luminous and ultra-luminous IR galaxies (U/LIRGs) from the GOALS sample observed by NuSTAR. We find that the fraction of AGNs that are Compton thick (CT; $N_{\rm H}\ge 10^{24}\rm \, cm^{-2}$) peaks at $74_{-19}^{+14}{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ at a late merger stage, prior to coalescence, when the nuclei have projected separations (dsep) of 0.4–6 kpc. A similar peak is also observed in the median NH [$(1.6\pm 0.5)\times 10^{24}\rm \, cm^{-2}$]. The vast majority ($85^{+7}_{-9}{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of the AGNs in the final merger stages (dsep ≲ 10 kpc) are heavily obscured ($N_{\rm H}\ge 10^{23}\rm \, cm^{-2}$), and the median NH of the accreting SMBHs in our sample is systematically higher than that of local hard X-ray-selected AGN, regardless of the merger stage. This implies that these more »
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10344234
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
506
Issue:
4
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5935 to 5950
ISSN:
0035-8711
1. Abstract Galaxy mergers are predicted to trigger accretion onto the central supermassive black holes, with the highest rates occurring during final coalescence. Previously, we have shown elevated rates of both optical and mid-IR selected active galactic nuclei (AGN) in post-mergers, but to date the prevalence of X-ray AGN has not been examined in the same systematic way. We present XMM-Newton data of 43 post-merger galaxies selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey along with 430 non-interacting control galaxies matched in stellar mass, redshift, and environment in order to test for an excess of hard X-ray (2–10 keV) emission in post-mergers attributable to triggered AGN. We find 2 X-ray detections in the post-mergers ($4.7^{+9.3}_{-3.8}\%$) and 9 in the controls ($2.1^{+1.5}_{-1.0}\%$), an excess of $2.22^{+4.44}_{-2.22}$, where the confidence intervals are 90%. While we therefore do not find statistically significant evidence for an X-ray AGN excess in post-mergers (p = 0.26), we find a factor of ∼17 excess of mid-IR AGN in our sample, consistent with past work and inconsistent with the observed X-ray excess (p = 2.7 × 10−4). Dominant, luminous AGN are therefore more frequent in post-mergers, and the lack of a comparable excess of 2–10 keV X-ray AGN suggests that AGN inmore »
3. ABSTRACT Emission from active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is known to play an important role in the evolution of many galaxies including luminous and ultraluminous systems (U/LIRGs), as well as merging systems. However, the extent, duration, and exact effects of its influence are still imperfectly understood. To assess the impact of AGNs on interacting systems, we present a spectral energy distribution (SED) analysis of a sample of 189 nearby galaxies. We gather and systematically re-reduce archival broad-band imaging mosaics from the ultraviolet to the far-infrared using data from GALEX, SDSS, 2MASS, IRAS, WISE, Spitzer, and Herschel. We use spectroscopy from Spitzer/IRS to obtain fluxes from fine-structure lines that trace star formation and AGN activity. Utilizing the SED modelling and fitting tool cigale, we derive the physical conditions of the interstellar medium, both in star-forming regions and in nuclear regions dominated by the AGN in these galaxies. We investigate how the star formation rates (SFRs) and the fractional AGN contributions (fAGN) depend on stellar mass, galaxy type, and merger stage. We find that luminous galaxies more massive than about $10^{10} \,\rm {M}_{*}$ are likely to deviate significantly from the conventional galaxy main-sequence relation. Interestingly, infrared AGN luminosity and stellar mass in thismore »
We present the analysis of ∼100 pc scale compact radio continuum sources detected in 63 local (ultra)luminous infrared galaxies (U/LIRGs;LIR≥ 1011L), using FWHM ≲ 0.″1–0.″2 resolution 15 and 33 GHz observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array. We identify a total of 133 compact radio sources with effective radii of 8–170 pc, which are classified into four main categories—“AGN” (active galactic nuclei), “AGN/SBnuc” (AGN-starburst composite nucleus), “SBnuc” (starburst nucleus), and “SF” (star-forming clumps)—based on ancillary data sets and the literature. We find that “AGN” and “AGN/SBnuc” more frequently occur in late-stage mergers and have up to 3 dex higher 33 GHz luminosities and surface densities compared with “SBnuc” and “SF,” which may be attributed to extreme nuclear starburst and/or AGN activity in the former. Star formation rates (SFRs) and surface densities (ΣSFR) are measured for “SF” and “SBnuc” using both the total 33 GHz continuum emission (SFR ∼ 0.14–13Myr−1, ΣSFR∼ 13–1600Myr−1kpc−2) and the thermal free–free emission from Hiiregions (median SFRth∼ 0.4Myr−1,$ΣSFRth∼44M⊙$yr−1kpc−2). These values are 1–2 dex higher than those measured for similar-sized clumps in nearby normal (non-U/LIRGs). The latter also have a much flatter median 15–33 GHz spectral index (∼−0.08) compared withmore »
5. ABSTRACT We present a multiwavelength analysis of 28 of the most luminous low-redshift narrow-line, ultra-hard X-ray-selected active galactic nuclei (AGN) drawn from the 70-month Swift/BAT all-sky survey, with bolometric luminosities of $\log (L_{\rm bol} /{\rm erg\, s}^{-1}) \gtrsim 45.25$. The broad goal of our study is to determine whether these objects have any distinctive properties, potentially setting them aside from lower luminosity obscured AGN in the local Universe. Our analysis relies on the first data release of the BAT AGN Spectroscopic Survey (BASS/DR1) and on dedicated observations with the VLT, Palomar, and Keck observatories. We find that the vast majority of our sources agree with commonly used AGN selection criteria which are based on emission line ratios and on mid-infrared colours. Our AGN are pre-dominantly hosted in massive galaxies (9.8 ≲ log (M*/M⊙) ≲ 11.7); based on visual inspection of archival optical images, they appear to be mostly ellipticals. Otherwise, they do not have distinctive properties. Their radio luminosities, determined from publicly available survey data, show a large spread of almost four orders of magnitude – much broader than what is found for lower X-ray luminosity obscured AGN in BASS. Moreover, our sample shows no preferred combination of black hole massesmore »