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Author(s): Hainline, Kevin N; Reines, Amy E; Greene, Jenny E.; Stern, Daniel

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Abstract: Searching for active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in dwarf galaxies is important for our understanding of the seed black holes that formed in the early universe. Here, we test infrared selection methods for AGN activity at low galaxy masses. Our parent sample consists of similar to 18,000 nearby dwarf galaxies (M-* < 3 x 10(9) M-circle dot, z < 0.055) in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with significant detections in the first three bands of the AllWISE data release from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). First, we demonstrate that the majority of optically selected AGNs in dwarf galaxies are not selected as AGNs using WISE infrared color diagnostics and that the infrared emission is dominated by the host galaxies. We then investigate the infrared properties of optically selected star-forming dwarf galaxies, finding that the galaxies with the reddest infrared colors are the most compact, with blue optical colors, young stellar ages, and large specific star formation rates. These results indicate that great care must be taken when selecting AGNs in dwarf galaxies using infrared colors, as star-forming dwarf galaxies are capable of heating dust in such a way that mimics the infrared colors of more luminous AGNs. In particular, a simple W1 - W2 color cut alone should not be used to select AGNs in dwarf galaxies. With these complications in mind, we present a sample of 41 dwarf galaxies that fall in the. WISE infrared color space typically occupied by more luminous AGNs and that are worthy of follow-up observations.
Publication Date: 1-Dec-2016
Electronic Publication Date: 22-Nov-2016
Citation: Hainline, Kevin N, Reines, Amy E, Greene, Jenny E, Stern, Daniel. (2016). MID-INFRARED COLORS OF DWARF GALAXIES: YOUNG STARBURSTS MIMICKING ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 832 (10.3847/0004-637X/832/2/119
DOI: doi:10.3847/0004-637X/832/2/119
ISSN: 0004-637X
EISSN: 1538-4357
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Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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