Monday, August 5, 2013

1308.0328 (Amy E. Reines et al.)

Dwarf Galaxies with Optical Signatures of Active Massive Black Holes    [PDF]

Amy E. Reines, Jenny E. Greene, Marla Geha
We present a sample of 151 dwarf galaxies (10^8.5 < M_stellar < 10^9.5 Msun) that exhibit optical spectroscopic signatures of accreting massive black holes (BHs), increasing the number of known active galaxies in this stellar mass range by more than an order of magnitude. Utilizing data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 8 and stellar masses from the NASA-Sloan Atlas, we have systematically searched for active BHs in ~25,000 emission-line galaxies with stellar masses comparable to the Magellanic Clouds and redshifts z<0.055. Using the narrow-line [OIII]/H-beta versus [NII]/H-alpha diagnostic diagram, we find photoionization signatures of BH accretion in 136 galaxies, a small fraction of which also exhibit broad H-alpha emission. For these broad-line AGN candidates, we estimate BH masses using standard virial techniques and find a range of 10^5 < M_BH < 10^6 Msun and a median of M_BH ~ 2 x 10^5 Msun. We also detect broad H-alpha in 15 galaxies that have narrow-line ratios consistent with star-forming galaxies. Follow-up observations are required to determine if these are true type 1 AGN or if the broad H-alpha is from stellar processes. The median absolute magnitude of the host galaxies in our active sample is Mg = -18.1 mag, which is ~1-2 magnitudes fainter than previous samples of AGN hosts with low-mass BHs. This work constrains the smallest galaxies that can form a massive BH, with implications for BH feedback in low-mass galaxies and the origin of the first supermassive BH seeds.
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