Investigating the effect of galaxy interactions on the enhancement of active galactic nuclei at 0.5 < z < 3.0

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Galaxy interactions and mergers are thought to play an important role in the evolution of galaxies. Studies in the nearby universe show a higher AGN fraction in interacting and merging galaxies than their isolated counterparts, indicating that such interactions are important contributors to black hole growth. To investigate the evolution of this role at higher redshifts, we have compiled the largest known sample of major spectroscopic galaxy pairs (2381 with ∆V < 5000 km s^(−1) ) at 0.5 < z < 3.0 from observations in the COSMOS and CANDELS surveys. We identify X-ray and IR AGN among this kinematic pair sample, a visually identified sample of mergers and interactions, and a mass-, redshift- and environment-matched control sample for each in order to calculate AGN fractions and the level of AGN enhancement as a function of relative velocity, redshift, and X-ray luminosity. While we see a slight increase in AGN fraction with decreasing projected separation, overall, we find no significant enhancement relative to the control sample at any separation. In the closest projected separation bin (< 25 kpc, ∆V < 1000 km s^(−1)), we find enhancements of a factor of 0.94^(+0.21)_(−0.16) and 1.00^(+0.58)_(−0.31) for X-ray and IR-selected AGN, respectively. While we conclude that galaxy interactions do not significantly enhance AGN activity on average over 0.5 < z < 3.0 at these separations, given the errors and the small sample size at the closest projected separations, our results would be consistent with the presence of low-level AGN enhancement.
© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Artículo firmado por 34 autores.We thank the anonymous reviewer for their critical reading of the manuscript and providing detailed and insightful comments, which greatly enhanced the quality and clarity of the paper. Support for this work was provided by NASA through grants HST-GO-13657.010-A and HST-AR-14298.004-A awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. Support was also provided by NASA through grant NNX16AB36G as part of the Astrophysics Data Analysis Program. This work was also supported by start-up funds and the Dean’s Research Initiation Grant fund from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Science. ES would like to thank Athis Osathapan, Krystal Tyler, and Kevin Cooke for intriguing discussions and assistance with spectral energy distribution fitting, which was performed using the computational resources and support from Research Computing Services at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester Institute of Technology 2019). ES thanks the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program, which is funded by LSSTC, NSF Cybertraining Grant #1829740, the Brinson Foundation, and the Moore Foundation; her participation in the program has benefited this work. HI acknowledges support from JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP19K23462. ET acknowledges support from FONDECYT Regular 1190818, ANID PIA ACT172033 and Basal-CATA AFB170002. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. Based in part on observations obtained at the international Gemini Observatory and processed using the Gemini IRAF package (Tody 1986, 1993), a program of NOIRLab, which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. on behalf of the Gemini Observatory partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), National Research Council (Canada), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Argentina), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brazil), and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea). The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. This work is also based in part on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained from the Data Archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555, observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA, and observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and published previously in cited articles.
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