Environmental effects on AGN activity via extinction-free mid-infrared census

Santos, Daryl Joe D; Goto, Tomotsugu; Kim, Seong Jin; Wang, Ting-Wen; Ho, Simon C-C; Hashimoto, Tetsuya; Huang, Ting-Chi; Lu, Ting-Yi; On, Alvina Y L; Wong, Yi-Hang Valerie; Hsiao, Tiger Yu-Yang; Pollo, Agnieszka; Malkan, Matthew A; Miyaji, Takamitsu; Toba, Yoshiki; Kilerci-Eser, Ece; Małek, Katarzyna; Hwang, Ho Seong; Jeong, Woong-Seob; Shim, Hyunjin; Pearson, Chris; Poliszczuk, Artem and Chen, Bo Han (2021). Environmental effects on AGN activity via extinction-free mid-infrared census. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 507(2) pp. 3070–3088.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stab2352


How does the environment affect active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity? We investigated this question in an extinction-free way, by selecting 1120 infrared galaxies in the AKARI North Ecliptic Pole Wide field at redshift z ≤ 1.2. A unique feature of the AKARI satellite is its continuous 9-band infrared (IR) filter coverage, providing us with an unprecedentedly large sample of IR spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies. By taking advantage of this, for the first time, we explored the AGN activity derived from SED modelling as a function of redshift, luminosity, and environment. We quantified AGN activity in two ways: AGN contribution fraction (ratio of AGN luminosity to the total IR luminosity), and AGN number fraction (ratio of number of AGNs to the total galaxy sample). We found that galaxy environment (normalised local density) does not greatly affect either definitions of AGN activity of our IRG/LIRG samples (log LTIR ≤ 12). However, we found a different behavior for ULIRGs (log LTIR > 12). At our highest redshift bin (0.7 ≲ z ≲ 1.2), AGN activity increases with denser environments, but at the intermediate redshift bin (0.3 ≲ z ≲ 0.7), the opposite is observed. These results may hint at a different physical mechanism for ULIRGs. The trends are not statistically significant (p ≥ 0.060 at the intermediate redshift bin, and p ≥ 0.139 at the highest redshift bin). Possible different behavior of ULIRGs is a key direction to explore further with future space missions (e.g., JWST, Euclid, SPHEREx).

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