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Published December 2016 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Do some AGN lack X-ray emission?


Context. Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are thought to be the seeds of early supermassive black holes (SMBHs). While ≳100 IMBH and small SMBH candidates have been identified in recent years, few have been robustly confirmed to date, leaving their number density in considerable doubt. Placing firmer constraints both on the methods used to identify and confirm IMBHs/SMBHs, as well as characterizing the range of host environments that IMBHs/SMBHs likely inhabit is therefore of considerable interest and importance. Additionally, finding significant numbers of IMBHs in metal-poor systems would be particularly intriguing, since such systems may represent local analogs of primordial galaxies, and therefore could provide clues of early accretion processes. Aims. Here we study in detail several candidate active galactic nuclei (AGN) found in metal-poor hosts. Methods. We utilize new X-ray and optical observations to characterize these metal-poor AGN candidates and compare them against known AGN luminosity relations and well-characterized IMBH/SMBH samples. Results. Despite having clear broad optical emission lines that are long-lived (≳10−13 yr), these candidate AGN appear to lack associated strong X-ray and hard UV emission, lying at least 1−2 dex off the known AGN correlations. If they are IMBHs/SMBHs, our constraints imply that they either are not actively accreting, their accretion disks are fully obscured along our line-of-sight, or their accretion disks are not producing characteristic high energy emission. Alternatively, if they are not AGN, then their luminous broad emission lines imply production by extreme stellar processes. The latter would have profound implications on the applicability of broad lines for mass estimates of massive black holes.

Additional Information

© 2016 ESO. Article published by EDP Sciences. Received: 13 July 2016; Accepted: 23 September 2016; Published online 01 December 2016. We thank Mislav Balokovic for help acquiring Keck spectra. The work of Daniel Stern was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. We acknowledge support from CONICYT-Chile grants Basal-CATA PFB-06/2007 (FEB), FONDECYT Regular 1141218 (CS, FEB), and "EMBIGGEN" Anillo ACT1101 (FEB); the Ministry of Economy, Development, and Tourism's Millennium Science Initiative through grant IC120009, awarded to The Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, MAS (FEB); and NASA through Chandra Award Number GO9-0106C (FEB, TXT) issued by the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of the NASA under contract NAS8-03060. The scientific results reported in this article are based in part on observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and data obtained from the Chandra Data Archive, as well as observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and published previously in cited articles. This research has made use of software provided by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) in the application packages CIAO, ChIPS, and Sherpa. This publication makes use of data products from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 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. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. This paper used data obtained with the MODS spectrographs built with funding from NSF grant AST-9987045 and the NSF Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP), with additional funds from the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio State University Office of Research. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System.

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Published - aa29310-16.pdf

Submitted - 1609.07619v1.pdf


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