skip to main content

Title: Variability Selected Active Galactic Nuclei from ASAS-SN Survey: Constraining the Low Luminosity AGN Population

Low luminosity active galactic nuclei (LLAGN) probe accretion physics in the low Eddington regime can provide additional clues about galaxy evolution. AGN variability is ubiquitous and thus provides a reliable tool for finding AGN. We analyze the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae light curves of 1218 galaxies withg< 14 mag and Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectra in search of AGN. We find 37 objects that are both variable and have AGN-like structure functions, which is about 3% of the sample. The majority of the variability selected AGN are LLAGN with Eddington ratios ranging from 10−4to 10−2. We thus estimate the fraction of LLAGN in the population of galaxies as 2% down to a median Eddington ratio of 2 × 10−3. Combining the BPT line ratio AGN diagnostics and the broad-line AGN, up to ∼60% of the AGN candidates are confirmed spectroscopically. The BPT diagnostics also classified 10%–30% of the candidates as star-forming galaxies rather than AGN.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2103251 1908570 1814440 1908952
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 110
Article No. 110
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Existing star-forming vs. active galactic nucleus (AGN) classification schemes using optical emission-line diagnostics mostly fail for low-metallicity and/or highly star-forming galaxies, missing AGN in typicalz∼ 0 dwarfs. To recover AGN in dwarfs with strong emission lines (SELs), we present a classification scheme optimizing the use of existing optical diagnostics. We use Sloan Digital Sky Survey emission-line catalogs overlapping the volume- and mass-limited REsolved Spectroscopy Of a Local VolumE (RESOLVE) and Environmental COntex (ECO) surveys to determine the AGN percentage in SEL dwarfs. Our photoionization grids show that the [Oiii]/Hβversus [Sii]/Hαdiagram (Siiplot) and [Oiii]/Hβversus [Oi]/Hαdiagram (Oiplot) are less metallicity sensitive and more successful in identifying dwarf AGN than the popular [Oiii]/Hβversus [Nii]/Hαdiagnostic (Niiplot or “BPT diagram”). We identify a new category of “star-forming AGN” (SF-AGN) classified as star-forming by the Niiplot but as AGN by the Siiand/or Oiplots. Including SF-AGN, we find thez∼ 0 AGN percentage in dwarfs with SELs to be ∼3%–16%, far exceeding most previous optical estimates (∼1%). The large range in our dwarf AGN percentage reflects differences in spectral fitting methodologies between catalogs. The highly complete nature of RESOLVE and ECO allows us to normalize strong emission-line galaxy statistics to the full galaxy population, reducing the dwarf AGN percentage to ∼0.6%–3.0%. The newly identified SF-AGN are mostly gas-rich dwarfs with halo mass <1011.5M, where highly efficient cosmic gas accretion is expected. Almost all SF-AGN also have low metallicities (Z≲ 0.4Z), demonstrating the advantage of our method.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    “Changing-look” active galactic nuclei (CL-AGNs) challenge our basic ideas about the physics of accretion flows and circumnuclear gas around supermassive black holes. Using first-year Sloan Digital Sky Survey V (SDSS-V) repeated spectroscopy of nearly 29,000 previously known active galactic nuclei (AGNs), combined with dedicated follow-up spectroscopy, and publicly available optical light curves, we have identified 116 CL-AGNs where (at least) one broad emission line has essentially (dis-)appeared, as well as 88 other extremely variable systems. Our CL-AGN sample, with 107 newly identified cases, is the largest reported to date, and includes ∼0.4% of the AGNs reobserved in first-year SDSS-V operations. Among our CL-AGNs, 67% exhibit dimming while 33% exhibit brightening. Our sample probes extreme AGN spectral variability on months to decades timescales, including some cases of recurring transitions on surprisingly short timescales (≲2 months in the rest frame). We find that CL events are preferentially found in lower-Eddington-ratio (fEdd) systems: Our CL-AGNs have afEdddistribution that significantly differs from that of a carefully constructed, redshift- and luminosity-matched control sample (Anderson–Darling test yieldingpAD≈ 6 × 10−5; medianfEdd≈ 0.025 versus 0.043). This preference for lowfEddstrengthens previous findings of higher CL-AGN incidence at lowerfEdd, found in smaller samples. Finally, we show that the broad Mgiiemission line in our CL-AGN sample tends to vary significantly less than the broad Hβemission line. Our large CL-AGN sample demonstrates the advantages and challenges in using multi-epoch spectroscopy from large surveys to study extreme AGN variability and physics.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We present the first active galactic nuclei (AGN) catalog of the Hobby–Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment Survey (HETDEX) observed between 2017 January and 2020 June. HETDEX is an ongoing spectroscopic survey (3500–5500 Å) with no target preselection based on magnitudes, colors or morphologies, enabling us to select AGN based solely on their spectral features. Both luminous quasars and low-luminosity Seyferts are found in our catalog. AGN candidates are selected with at least two significant AGN emission lines, such as the Lyαand Civλ1549 line pair, or with a single broad emission line with FWHM > 1000 km s−1. Each source is further confirmed by visual inspections. This catalog contains 5322 AGN, covering an effective sky coverage of 30.61 deg2. A total of 3733 of these AGN have secure redshifts, and we provide redshift estimates for the remaining 1589 single broad-line AGN with no crossmatched spectral redshifts from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 14 of QSOs. The redshift range of the AGN catalog is 0.25 <z< 4.32, with a median ofz= 2.1. The bolometric luminosity range is 109–1014Lwith a median of 1012L. The medianr-band magnitude of our AGN catalog is 21.6 mag, with 34% havingr> 22.5, and 2.6% reaching the detection limit atr∼ 26 mag of the deepest imaging surveys we searched. We also provide a composite spectrum of the AGN sample covering 700–4400 Å.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We investigate the role of galaxy mergers in triggering active galactic nuclei (AGN) in the nearby universe. Our analysis is based on a sample of 79 post-merger remnant galaxies with deep X-ray observations from Chandra/XMM-Newton capable of detecting a low-luminosity AGN of ≥1040.5erg s−1. This sample is derived from a visually classified, volume-limited sample of 807 post-mergers identified in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 14 with logM*/M≥ 10.5 and 0.02 ≤z≤ 0.06. We find that the X-ray AGN fraction in this sample is 55.7% ± 5.6% compared to 23.6% ± 2.8% for a mass- and redshift-matched noninteracting control sample. The multiwavelength AGN fraction (identified as an AGN in one of X-ray, IR, radio or optical diagnostics) for post-mergers is 76.6% ± 4.8% compared to 39.1% ± 3.2% for controls. Thus post-mergers exhibit a high overall AGN fraction with an excess between 2 and 4 depending on the AGN diagnostics used. In addition, we find most optical, IR, and radio AGN are also identified as X-ray AGN while a large fraction of X-ray AGN are not identified in any other diagnostic. This highlights the importance of deep X-ray imaging to identify AGN. We find that the X-ray AGN fraction of post-mergers is independent of the stellar mass above logM*/M≥ 10.5 unlike the trend seen in control galaxies. Overall, our results show that post-merger galaxies are a good tracer of the merger–AGN connection and strongly support the theoretical expectations that mergers trigger AGN.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The James Webb Space Telescope is revealing a new population of dust-reddened broad-line active galactic nuclei (AGN) at redshiftsz≳ 5. Here we present deep NIRSpec/Prism spectroscopy from the Cycle 1 Treasury program Ultradeep NIRSpec and NIRCam ObserVations before the Epoch of Reionization (UNCOVER) of 15 AGN candidates selected to be compact, with red continua in the rest-frame optical but with blue slopes in the UV. From NIRCam photometry alone, they could have been dominated by dusty star formation or an AGN. Here we show that the majority of the compact red sources in UNCOVER are dust-reddened AGN: 60% show definitive evidence for broad-line Hαwith a FWHM > 2000 km s−1, 20% of the current data are inconclusive, and 20% are brown dwarf stars. We propose an updated photometric criterion to select redz> 5 AGN that excludes brown dwarfs and is expected to yield >80% AGN. Remarkably, among allzphot> 5 galaxies with F277W – F444W > 1 in UNCOVER at least 33% are AGN regardless of compactness, climbing to at least 80% AGN for sources with F277W – F444W > 1.6. The confirmed AGN have black hole masses of 107–109M. While their UV luminosities (−16 >MUV> −20 AB mag) are low compared to UV-selected AGN at these epochs, consistent with percent-level scattered AGN light or low levels of unobscured star formation, the inferred bolometric luminosities are typical of 107–109Mblack holes radiating at ∼10%–40% the Eddington limit. The number densities are surprisingly high at ∼10−5Mpc−3mag−1, 100 times more common than the faintest UV-selected quasars, while accounting for ∼1% of the UV-selected galaxies. While their UV faintness suggests they may not contribute strongly to reionization, their ubiquity poses challenges to models of black hole growth.

    more » « less