Dual supermassive black hole candidates in the AGN and galaxy evolution survey

Julia M. Comerford, Kyle Schluns, Jenny E. Greene, Richard J. Cool

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dual supermassive black holes (SMBHs) with kiloparsec-scale separations in merger-remnant galaxies are informative tracers of galaxy evolution, but the avenue for identifying them in large numbers for such studies is not yet clear. One promising approach is to target spectroscopic signatures of systems where both SMBHs are fueled as dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs), or where one SMBH is fueled as an offset AGN. Dual AGNs may produce double-peaked narrow AGN emission lines, while offset AGNs may produce single-peaked narrow AGN emission lines with line-of-sight velocity offsets relative to the host galaxy. We search for such dual and offset systems among 173 Type 2 AGNs at z < 0.37 in the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES), and we find two double-peaked AGNs and five offset AGN candidates. When we compare these results to a similar search of the DEEP2 Galaxy Redshift Survey and match the two samples in color, absolute magnitude, and minimum velocity offset, we find that the fraction of AGNs that are dual SMBH candidates increases from z = 0.25 to z = 0.7 by a factor of ∼6 (from 2/70 to 16/91, or to ). This may be associated with the rise in the galaxy merger fraction over the same cosmic time. As further evidence for a link with galaxy mergers, the AGES offset and dual AGN candidates are tentatively ∼3 times more likely than the overall AGN population to reside in a host galaxy that has a companion galaxy (from 16/173 to 2/7, or to ). Follow-up observations of the seven offset and dual AGN candidates in AGES will definitively distinguish velocity offsets produced by dual SMBHs from those produced by narrow-line region kinematics, and will help sharpen our observational approach to detecting dual SMBHs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume777
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: interactions
  • galaxies: nuclei

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