Evidence for Merger-driven Growth in Luminous, High-z, Obscured AGNs in the CANDELS/COSMOS Field

J. L. Donley, J. Kartaltepe, D. Kocevski, M. Salvato, P. Santini, H. Suh, F. Civano, A. M. Koekemoer, J. Trump, M. Brusa, C. Cardamone, A. Castro, M. Cisternas, C. Conselice, D. Croton, N. Hathi, C. Liu, R. A. Lucas, P. Nair, D. RosarioD. Sanders, B. Simmons, C. Villforth, D. M. Alexander, E. F. Bell, S. M. Faber, N. A. Grogin, J. Lotz, D. H. McIntosh, T. Nagao

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Abstract

While major mergers have long been proposed as a driver of both active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity and theMBH-sbulge relation, studies of moderate to high-redshift Seyfert-luminosity AGN hosts have found little evidencefor enhanced rates of interactions. However, both theory and observation suggest that while these AGNs may befueled by stochastic accretion and secular processes, high-luminosity, high-redshift, and heavily obscured AGNsare the AGNs most likely to be merger-driven. To better sample this population of AGNs, we turn to infraredselection in the CANDELS/COSMOS field. Compared to their lower-luminosity and less obscured X-ray-onlycounterparts, IR-only AGNs (luminous, heavily obscured AGNs) are more likely to be classified as either irregular(50-12 +12 versus 9 % 25-+ ) or asymmetric (69 % 139-+ versus 17 % 46-+ ) and are less likely to have a spheroidal component(31 9 %13-+ versus 77 % 64-+ ). Furthermore, IR-only AGNs are also significantly more likely than X-ray-only AGNs(75 13%8-+ versus 31 % 66-+ ) to be classified either as interacting or merging in a way that significantly disturbs the hostgalaxy or as disturbed, though not clearly interacting or merging, which potentially represents the late stages of amajor merger. This suggests that while major mergers may not contribute significantly to the fueling of SeyfertluminosityAGNs, interactions appear to play a more dominant role in the triggering and fueling of high-luminosityheavily obscured AGNs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume853
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • infrared: galaxies
  • X-rays: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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