Exploring the low-mass end of the MBH* relation with active galaxies

Ting Xiao, Aaron J. Barth, Jenny E. Greene, Luis C. Ho, Misty C. Bentz, Randi R. Ludwig, Yanfei Jiang

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146 Scopus citations


We present new measurements of stellar velocity dispersions, using spectra obtained with the Keck Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) and the Magellan Echellette (MagE), for 76 Seyfert1 galaxies from the recent catalog of Greene & Ho. These objects were selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to have estimated black hole (BH) masses below 2 × 106 M . Combining our results with previous ESI observations of similar objects, we obtain an expanded sample of 93 galaxies and examine the relation between BH mass and velocity dispersion (the M BH- σ* relation) for active galaxies with low BH masses. The low-mass active galaxies tend to follow the extrapolation of the M BH* relation of inactive galaxies. Including results for active galaxies of higher BH mass from the literature, we find a zero point α = 7.68 0.08 and slope of β = 3.32 0.22 for the M BH* relation (in the form log M BH = α + βlog (σ*/200 kms -1)), with intrinsic scatter of 0.46 0.03dex. This result is consistent, within the uncertainties, with the slope of the M BH* relation for reverberation-mapped active galaxies with BH masses from 106 to 109 M . For the subset of our sample having morphological information from Hubble Space Telescope images, we examine the slope of the M BH* relation separately for subsamples of barred and unbarred host galaxies, and find no significant evidence for a difference in slope. We do find a mild offset between low-inclination and high-inclination disk galaxies, such that more highly inclined galaxies tend to have larger σ* at a given value of BH mass, presumably due to the contribution of disk rotation within the spectroscopic aperture. We also find that the velocity dispersion of the ionized gas, measured from narrow emission lines including [N II]λ6583, [S II] λλ6716, 6731, and the core of [O III] λ5007 (with the blueshifted wing removed), trace the stellar velocity dispersion well for this large sample of low-mass Seyfert1 galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: Seyfert
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: nuclei


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