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The Low Frequency of Dual Active Galactic Nuclei versus the High Merger Rate of Galaxies: A Phenomenological Model

Abstract : Dual active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are natural byproducts of hierarchical mergers of galaxies in the ΛCDM cosmogony. Recent observations have shown that only a small fraction (~0.1%-2.5%) of AGNs at redshift z <~ 0.3 are dual with kpc-scale separations, which is rather low compared to the high merger rate of galaxies. Here we construct a phenomenological model to estimate the number density of dual AGNs and its evolution according to the observationally estimated major merger rates of galaxies and various scaling relations on the properties of galaxies and their central massive black holes. We show that our model reproduces the observed frequency and separation distribution of dual AGNs provided that significant nuclear activities are triggered only in gas-rich progenitor galaxies with central massive black holes and only when the nuclei of these galaxies are roughly within the half-light radii of their companion galaxies. Under these constraints, the observed low dual AGN frequency is consistent with the relatively high merger rate of galaxies and supports the hypothesis that major mergers lead to AGN/QSO activities. We also predict that the number of kpc-scale dual AGNs decreases with increasing redshift and only about 0.02%-0.06% of AGNs are dual AGNs with double-peaked narrow line features at redshifts of z ~ 0.5-1.2. Future observations of high-redshift dual AGNs would provide a solid test for this prediction.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 4:22:53 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 3:40:10 AM

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Qingjuan yu, youjun Lu, Roya Mohayaee, Jacques Colin. The Low Frequency of Dual Active Galactic Nuclei versus the High Merger Rate of Galaxies: A Phenomenological Model. The Astrophysical Journal, 2011, 738, ⟨10.1088/0004-637X/738/1/92⟩. ⟨insu-03645905⟩

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