A Second Look at 12 Candidate Dual AGNs Using BAYMAX

Adi Foord, Kayhan Gültekin, Rebecca Nevin, Julia M. Comerford, Edmund Hodges-Kluck, R. Scott Barrows, Andrew D. Goulding, Jenny E. Greene

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19 Scopus citations


We present an analysis of 12 optically selected dual active galactic nucleus (AGN) candidates at z < 0.34. Each candidate was originally identified via double-peaked [O iii] λ5007 emission lines and received follow-up Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations. Because the X-ray data are low-count (<100 counts) with small separations (<1″), a robust analysis is necessary for classifying each source. Pairing long-slit [O iii] observations with existing Chandra observations, we re-analyze the X-ray observations with Bayesian AnalYsis of AGNs in X-rays to determine whether the X-ray emission from each system is more likely a single or dual point source. We find that 4 of the 12 sources are likely dual X-ray point-source systems. We examine each point source's spectra via a Monte Carlo method that probabilistically identifies the likely origin of each photon. When doing so, we find that (i) the secondary X-ray point sources in two of the systems have L X < 1040 erg s-1, such that we cannot rule out a non-AGN origin, (ii) one source has a secondary with L X > 1040 erg s-1 but a spectrum that is too soft to definitively preclude being X-ray emitting diffuse gas that was photoionized by the primary AGN, and (iii) one system (SDSS J1126+2944) is a dual AGN. Additionally, using complementary HST observations, we analyze a subsample of systems that are visually identified as merging. Our results suggest that dual AGNs may preferentially reside in mergers with small separations, consistent with both simulations and observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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