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Galaxy interactions trigger rapid black hole growth: An unprecedented view from the Hyper Suprime-Cam survey

Author(s): Goulding, Andy D; Greene, Jenny E.; Bezanson, Rachel; Greco, Johnny; Johnson, Sean; et al

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Abstract: Collisions and interactions between gas-rich galaxies are thought to be pivotal stages in their formation and evolution, causing the rapid production of new stars, and possibly serving as amechanism for fueling supermassive black holes (BHs). Harnessing the exquisite spatial resolution (similar to 0 ‘’.5) afforded by the first similar to 170 deg(2) of the Hyper SuprimeCam (HSC) survey, we present our new constraints on the importance of galaxy-galaxy major mergers (1 : 4) in growing BHs throughout the last similar to 8Gyr. Utilizing mid-infrared observations in the WISE all-sky survey, we robustly select active galactic nuclei (AGN) and mass-matched control galaxy samples, totaling similar to 140000 spectroscopically confirmed systems at i < 22 mag. We identify galaxy interaction signatures using a novel machine-learning random forest decision tree technique allowing us to select statistically significant samples of major mergers, minor mergers / irregular systems, and non-interacting galaxies. We use these samples to show that galaxies undergoing mergers are a factor of similar to 2-7 more likely to contain luminous obscured AGN than non-interacting galaxies, and this is independent of both stellarmass and redshift to z < 0.9. Furthermore, based on our comparison of AGN fractions in mass-matched samples, we determine that themost luminous AGN population (L-AGN greater than or similar to 10(45) erg s(-1)) systematically reside in merging systems over non-interacting galaxies. Our findings show that galaxy-galaxy interactions do, on average, trigger luminous AGN activity substantially more often than in secularly evolving non-interacting galaxies, and we further suggest that the BH growth rate may be closely tied to the dynamical time of the merger system.
Publication Date: Jan-2018
Electronic Publication Date: 23-Dec-2017
Citation: Goulding, Andy D, Greene, Jenny E, Bezanson, Rachel, Greco, Johnny, Johnson, Sean, Leauthaud, Alexie, Matsuoka, Yoshiki, Medezinski, Elinor, Price-Whelan, Adrian M. (2018). Galaxy interactions trigger rapid black hole growth: An unprecedented view from the Hyper Suprime-Cam survey. PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF JAPAN, 70 (10.1093/pasj/psx135
DOI: doi:10.1093/pasj/psx135
ISSN: 0004-6264
EISSN: 2053-051X
Type of Material: Journal Article
Version: Author's manuscript

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