Astrophys. J., 704, 439-452 (2009/October-2)
The incidence of active galactic nuclei in pure disk galaxies: the Spitzer view.
SATYAPAL S., BOKER T., McALPINE W., GLIOZZI M., ABEL N.P. and HECKMAN T.
Abstract (from CDS):
Using the Spitzer telescope, we have conducted a high-resolution spectroscopic study of 18 bulgeless (Hubble type of Sd or Sdm) galaxies that show no definitive signatures of nuclear activity in their optical spectra. This is the first systematic mid-infrared (MIR) search for weak or hidden active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in a statistically significant sample of bulgeless (Sd/Sdm) disk galaxies. Based on the detection of the high-ionization [Ne V] 14.3 µm line, we report the discovery of an AGN in 1 out of the 18 galaxies in the sample. This galaxy, NGC 4178, is a nearby edge-on Sd galaxy, which likely hosts a prominent nuclear star cluster (NSC). The bolometric luminosity of the AGN inferred from the [Ne V] line luminosity is ∼8x1041 ergs/s. This is almost 2 orders of magnitude greater than the luminosity of the AGN in NGC 4395, the best studied AGN in a bulgeless disk galaxy. Assuming that the AGN in NGC 4178 is radiating below the Eddington limit, the lower mass limit for the black hole is ∼6x103 M☉. The fact that none of the other galaxies in the sample shows any evidence for an AGN demonstrates that while the AGN detection rate based on MIR diagnostics is high (30%-40%) in optically quiescent galaxies with pseudobulges or weak classical bulges (Hubble type Sbc and Sc), it drops drastically in Sd/Sdm galaxies. Our observations, therefore, confirm that AGNs in completely bulgeless disk galaxies are not hidden in the optical but truly are rare. Of the three Sd galaxies with AGNs known so far, all have prominent NSCs, suggesting that in the absence of a well-defined bulge, the galaxy must possess an NSC in order to host an AGN. On the other hand, while the presence of an NSC appears to be a requirement for hosting an AGN in bulgeless galaxies, neither the properties of the NSC nor those of the host galaxy appear exceptional in late-type AGN host galaxies. The recipe for forming and growing a central black hole in a bulgeless galaxy therefore remains unknown.
black hole physics - dark matter - galaxies: active - galaxies: spiral - infrared: galaxies
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