Adaptive Optics Imaging Of Quasi-Stellar Objects With Double-Peaked Narrow Lines: Are They Dual Active Galactic Nuclei?
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Active galaxies hosting two accreting and merging supermassive black holes (SMBHs)-dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs)-are predicted by many current and popular models of black-hole-galaxy co-evolution. We present here the results of a program that has identified a set of probable dual AGN candidates based on near-infrared laser guide star adaptive optics imaging with the Keck II telescope. These candidates are selected from a complete sample of radio-quiet quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which show double-peaked narrow AGN emission lines. Of the 12 AGNs imaged, we find 6 with double galaxy structure, of which four are in galaxy mergers. We measure the ionization of the two velocity components in the narrow AGN lines to test the hypothesis that both velocity components come from an active nucleus. The combination of a well-defined parent sample and high-quality imaging allows us to place constraints on the fraction of SDSS QSOs that host dual accreting black holes separated on kiloparsec scales: similar to 0.3%-0.65%. We derive from this fraction the time spent in a QSO phase during a typical merger and find a value that is much lower than estimates that arise from QSO space densities and galaxy merger statistics. We discuss possible reasons for this difference. Finally, we compare the SMBH mass distributions of single and dual AGNs and find little difference between the two within the limited statistics of our program, hinting that most SMBH growth happens in the later stages of a merger process.
CitationRosario, D. J., R. C. McGurk, C. E. Max, G. A. Shields, K. L. Smith, and S. M. Ammons. "Adaptive optics imaging of quasi-stellar objects with double-peaked narrow lines: Are they dual active galactic nuclei?." The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 739, No. 1 (Sep., 2011): 44.
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