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Title: Varstrometry for Off-nucleus and Dual Sub-kiloparsec Active Galactic Nuclei (VODKA): Very Long Baseline Array Searches for Dual or Off-nucleus Quasars and Small-scale Jets

Dual and off-nucleus active supermassive black holes are expected to be common in the hierarchical structure formation paradigm, but their identification at parsec scales remains a challenge due to strict angular resolution requirements. We conducted a systematic study using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to examine 23 radio-bright candidate dual and off-nucleus quasars. The targets are selected by a novel astrometric technique (varstrometry) from Gaia, aiming to identify dual or off-nucleus quasars at (sub)kiloparsec scales. Among these quasars, eight exhibit either multiple radio components or significant (>3σ) positional offsets between the VLBA and Gaia positions. The radio emission from the three candidates, which exhibit multiple radio components, is likely to originate from small-scale jets based on their morphology. Among the remaining five candidates with significant VLBA-Gaia offsets, three are identified as potential dual quasars at parsec scales, one is likely attributed to small-scale jets, and the origin of the last candidate remains unclear. We explore alternative explanations for the observed VLBA-Gaia offsets. We find no evidence for optical jets at kiloparsec scales, nor any contamination to Gaia astrometric noise from the host galaxy; misaligned coordinate systems are unlikely to account for our offsets. Our study highlights the promise of the varstrometry technique in discovering candidate dual or off-nucleus quasars and emphasizes the need for further confirmation and investigation to validate and understand these intriguing candidates.

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Award ID(s):
2108162 2020265
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 29
Article No. 29
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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