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Published October 10, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Decomposing Star Formation and Active Galactic Nucleus with Spitzer Mid-infrared Spectra: Luminosity Functions and Co-evolution


We present Spitzer 7-38 μm spectra for a 24 μm flux-limited sample of galaxies at z ~ 0.7 in the COSMOS field. The detailed high-quality spectra allow us to cleanly separate star formation (SF) and active galactic nucleus (AGN) in individual galaxies. We first decompose mid-infrared luminosity functions (LFs). We find that the SF 8 μm and 15 μm LFs are well described by Schechter functions. AGNs dominate the space density at high luminosities, which leads to the shallow bright-end slope of the overall mid-infrared LFs. The total infrared (8-1000 μm) LF from 70 μm selected galaxies shows a shallower bright-end slope than the bolometrically corrected SF 15 μm LF, owing to the intrinsic dispersion in the mid-to-far-infrared spectral energy distributions. We then study the contemporary growth of galaxies and their supermassive black holes (BHs). Seven of the thirty-one luminous infrared galaxies with Spitzer spectra host luminous AGNs, implying an AGN duty cycle of 23% ± 9%. The time-averaged ratio of BH accretion rate and SF rate matches the local M_(BH) – M_(bulge) relation and the M_(BH) – M_(host) relation at z ~ 1. These results favor co-evolution scenarios in which BH growth and intense SF happen in the same event but the former spans a shorter lifetime than the latter. Finally, we compare our mid-infrared spectroscopic selection with other AGN identification methods and discuss candidate Compton-thick AGNs in the sample. While only half of the mid-infrared spectroscopically selected AGNs are detected in X-ray, ~90% of them can be identified with their near-infrared spectral indices.

Additional Information

© 2010 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 June 15; accepted 2010 August 17; published 2010 September 22. We thank Knud Jahnke, Mark Sargent, Giovanni Zamorani, and the anonymous referee for helpful comments. This work is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. Support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech under grant JPL-1344606.

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