Chandra X-ray and Hubble Space Telescope imaging of optically selected Kiloparsec-scale binary active galactic nuclei. I. Nature of the nuclear ionizing sources

Xin Liu, Francesca Civano, Yue Shen, Paul Green, Jenny E. Greene, Michael A. Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

Kiloparsec-scale binary active galactic nuclei (AGNs) signal active supermassive black hole (SMBH) pairs in merging galaxies. Despite their significance, unambiguously confirmed cases remain scarce and most have been discovered serendipitously. In a previous systematic search, we optically identified four kpc-scale binary AGNs from candidates selected with double-peaked narrow emission lines at z = 0.1-0.2. Here, we present Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) imaging of these four systems. We critically examine and confirm the binary-AGN scenario for two of the four targets, by combining high angular resolution X-ray imaging spectroscopy with Chandra ACIS-S, better nuclear position constraints from WFC3 F105W imaging, and direct starburst estimates from WFC3 F336W imaging; for the other two targets, the existing data are still consistent with the binary-AGN scenario, but we cannot rule out the possibility of only one AGN ionizing gas in both merging galaxies. We find tentative evidence for a systematically smaller X-ray-to-[O III] luminosity ratio and/or higher Compton-thick fraction in optically selected kpc-scale binary AGNs than in single AGNs, possibly caused by a higher nuclear gas column due to mergers and/or a viewing angle bias related to the double-peak narrow-line selection. While our result lends some further support to the general approach of optically identifying kpc-scale binary AGNs, it also highlights the challenge and ambiguity of X-ray confirmation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume762
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • X-rays: galaxies
  • black hole physics
  • galaxies: Seyfert
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: interactions
  • galaxies: nuclei
  • quasars: general

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