Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Relationship between Nuclear Activity and Galaxy-Galaxy Interactions for Seyfert Galaxies

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

We are pursuing an observational investigation to determine the factors responsible for fueling the supermassive black hole that powers an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN). An AGN is the astronomical term for any object that emits more energy from the central regions of the host galaxy than can be attributed to standard stellar processes. The most famous examples of AGN, quasars and radio galaxies, are the most luminous and dramatic objects in the Cosmos. A less luminous, but much more common example of AGN, known as Seyfert galaxies, is the focus of this study. Western Kentucky University’s network of telescopes has been used to obtain images for a sample of approximately 30 Seyfert galaxies. The sample was divided according to parameters characterizing the object’s environment as well as its luminosity at radio, infrared, optical continuum, optical line emission, and ultraviolet wavelengths. Analysis of our data is allowing us to determine the environmental evidence for disturbances that might be responsible for the observed level of nuclear activity. Careful construction of our sample is allowing us to resolve the contradictory conclusions of earlier investigations regarding the role of external versus internal processes as the cause of nuclear activity.

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The Relationship between Nuclear Activity and Galaxy-Galaxy Interactions for Seyfert Galaxies

We are pursuing an observational investigation to determine the factors responsible for fueling the supermassive black hole that powers an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN). An AGN is the astronomical term for any object that emits more energy from the central regions of the host galaxy than can be attributed to standard stellar processes. The most famous examples of AGN, quasars and radio galaxies, are the most luminous and dramatic objects in the Cosmos. A less luminous, but much more common example of AGN, known as Seyfert galaxies, is the focus of this study. Western Kentucky University’s network of telescopes has been used to obtain images for a sample of approximately 30 Seyfert galaxies. The sample was divided according to parameters characterizing the object’s environment as well as its luminosity at radio, infrared, optical continuum, optical line emission, and ultraviolet wavelengths. Analysis of our data is allowing us to determine the environmental evidence for disturbances that might be responsible for the observed level of nuclear activity. Careful construction of our sample is allowing us to resolve the contradictory conclusions of earlier investigations regarding the role of external versus internal processes as the cause of nuclear activity.