Mid-infrared and optical spectroscopy of ultraluminous infrared galaxies: a comparison.
LUTZ D., VEILLEUX S. and GENZEL R.
Abstract (from CDS):
New tools from Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) mid-infrared spectroscopy have recently become available to determine the power sources of dust-obscured ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs). We compare ISO classifications–starburst or active galactic nucleus (AGN)–with classifications from optical spectroscopy and with optical/near-infrared searches for hidden broad-line regions. The agreement between mid-infrared and optical classification is excellent if optical LINER spectra are assigned to the starburst group. The starburst nature of ULIRG LINERs strongly supports the suggestion that LINER spectra in infrared-selected galaxies, rather than being an expression of the AGN phenomenon, are due to shocks that are probably related to galactic superwinds. Differences between ISO and optical classification provide clues on the evolution of ULIRGs and on the configuration of obscuring dust. We find few ISO AGNs with optical H II or LINER identification, suggesting that highly obscured AGNs exist but are not typical for the ULIRG phenomenon in general. Rather, our results indicate that strong AGN activity, once triggered, quickly breaks the obscuring screen at least in certain directions, thus becoming detectable over a wide wavelength range.