Sizes and Kinematics of Extended Narrow-line Regions in Luminous Obscured AGN Selected by Broadband Images

Ai Lei Sun, Jenny E. Greene, Nadia L. Zakamska

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58 Scopus citations


To study the impact of active galactic nuclei (AGN) feedback on their galactic ISM, we present Magellan long-slit spectroscopy of 12 luminous nearby obscured AGN (, z ∼ 0.1). These objects are selected from a parent sample of spectroscopically identified AGN to have high [O iii]λ5007 and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mid-IR luminosities and extended emission in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey r-band images, suggesting the presence of extended [O iii]λ5007 emission. We find spatially resolved [O iii] emission (2-35 kpc) in 8 out of 12 of these objects. Combined with samples of higher luminosity obscured AGN, we confirm that the size of the narrow-line region (RNLR) scales with the mid-IR luminosity until the relation flattens at RNLR ∼ 10 kpc. Nine out of 12 objects in our sample have regions with broad [O iii] line widths (w80 > 600 km s-1), indicating outflows. We define these regions as the kinematically disturbed region (KDR). The size of the KDR () is typically smaller than RNLR by few kiloparsecs but also correlates strongly with the AGN mid-IR luminosity. Given the uncertain outflow mass, we derive a loose constraint on the outflow energy efficiency hmed = E. Lbol ∼ 0.007%-7%. We find no evidence for an AGN luminosity threshold below which outflows are not launched. To explain the sizes, velocity profiles, and high occurrence rates of the outflows in the most luminous AGN, we propose a scenario in which energy-conserving outflows are driven by AGN episodes with ∼108 year durations. Within each episode, the AGN is unlikely to be constantly luminous but could flicker on shorter timescales (≲107 yr) with a moderate duty cycle (∼10%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number222
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • galaxies: active
  • quasars: emission lines
  • quasars: supermassive black holes


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