Type 2 active galactic nuclei with double-peaked [O III] lines. II. single agns with complex narrow-line region kinematics are more common than binary AGNs

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Abstract

Approximately 1% of low-redshift (z ≲ 0.3) optically selected type 2 active galactic nuclei (AGNs) show a double-peaked [O III] narrow emission line profile in their spatially integrated spectra. Such features are usually interpreted as either due to kinematics, such as biconical outflows and/or disk rotation of the narrow line region (NLR) around single black holes, or due to the relative motion of two distinct NLRs in a merging pair of AGNs. Here, we report follow-up near-infrared (NIR) imaging and optical slit spectroscopy of 31 double-peaked [O III] type 2 AGNs drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) parent sample presented in Liu etal. The NIR imaging traces the old stellar population in each galaxy, while the optical slit spectroscopy traces the NLR gas. These data reveal a mixture of origins for the double-peaked feature. Roughly 10% of our objects are best explained by binary AGNs at (projected)kpc-scale separations, where two stellar components with spatially coincident NLRs are seen. 50% of our objects have [O III] emission offset by a fewkpc, corresponding to the two velocity components seen in the SDSS spectra, but there are no spatially coincident double stellar components seen in the NIR imaging. For those objects with sufficiently high-quality slit spectra, we see velocity and/or velocity dispersion gradients in [O III] emission, suggestive of the kinematic signatures of a single NLR. The remaining 40% of our objects are ambiguous and will need higher spatial resolution observations to distinguish between the two scenarios. Our observations therefore favor the kinematics scenario with a single AGN for the majority of these double-peaked [O III] type 2 AGNs. We emphasize the importance of combining imaging and slit spectroscopy in identifyingkpc-scale binary AGNs, i.e., in no cases does one of these alone allow an unambiguous identification. We estimate that 0.5%-2.5% of the z ≲ 0.3 type 2 AGNs arekpc-scale binary AGNs of comparable luminosities, with a relative orbital velocity ≳ 150 km s-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume735
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

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

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