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INVESTIGATING THE CORE MORPHOLOGY-SEYFERT CLASS RELATIONSHIP WITH HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE ARCHIVAL IMAGES OF LOCAL SEYFERT GALAXIES

Description

The unified model of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) has provided a successful explanation for the observed diversity of AGNs in the local universe. However, recent analysis of multi-wavelength spectral and

The unified model of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) has provided a successful explanation for the observed diversity of AGNs in the local universe. However, recent analysis of multi-wavelength spectral and image data suggests that the unified model is only a partial theory of AGNs, and may need to be augmented to remain consistent with all observations. Recent studies using high spatial resolution ground-and space-based observations of local AGNs show that Seyfert class and the "core" (r less than or similar to 1 kpc) host-galaxy morphology are correlated. Currently, this relationship has only been established qualitatively, by visual inspection of the core morphologies of low-redshift (z < 0.035) Seyfert host galaxies. We re-establish this empirical relationship in Hubble Space Telescope optical imaging by visual inspection of a catalog of 85 local (D < 63 Mpc) Seyfert galaxies. We also attempt to re-establish the core morphology-Seyfert class relationship using an automated, non-parametric technique that combines both existing classification parameter methods (the adapted CAS and G-M-20) and a new method which implements the Source Extractor software for feature detection in unsharp-mask images. This new method is designed explicitly to detect dust features in the images. We use our automated approach to classify the morphology of the AGN cores and determine that Sy2 galaxies visually appear, on average, to have more dust features than Sy1. With the exception of this "dustiness" however, we do not measure a strong correlation between the dust morphology and the Seyfert class of the host galaxy using quantitative techniques. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of the unified model.

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Date Created
  • 2013-10-28

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Morphological perspectives on galaxy evolution since z̃1.5

Description

Galaxies represent a fundamental catalyst in the ``lifecycle'' of matter in the Universe, and the study of galaxy assembly and evolution provides unique insight into the physical processes governing the

Galaxies represent a fundamental catalyst in the ``lifecycle'' of matter in the Universe, and the study of galaxy assembly and evolution provides unique insight into the physical processes governing the transformation of matter from atoms to gas to stars. With the Hubble Space Telescope, the astrophysical community is able to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, at an unrivaled spatial resolution, over more than 90% of cosmic time. Here, I present results from two complementary studies of galaxy evolution in the local and intermediate redshift Universe which used new and archival HST images. First, I use archival broad-band HST WFPC2 optical images of local (d<63 Mpc) Seyfert-type galaxies to test the observed correlation between visually-classified host galaxy dust morphology and AGN class. Using quantitative parameters for classifying galaxy morphology, I do not measure a strong correlation between the galaxy morphology and AGN class. This result could imply that the Unified Model of AGN provides a sufficient model for the observed diversity of AGN, but this result could also indicate the quantitative techniques are insufficient for characterizing the dust morphology of local galaxies. To address the latter, I develop a new automated method using an inverse unsharp masking technique coupled to Source Extractor to detect and measure dust morphology. I measure no strong trends with dust-morphology and AGN class using this method, and conclude that the Unified Model remains sufficient to explain the diversity of AGN. Second, I use new UV-optical-near IR broad-band images obtained with the HST WFC3 in the Early Release Science (ERS) program to study the evolution of massive, early-type galaxies. These galaxies were once considered to be ``red and dead'', as a class uniformly devoid of recent star formation, but observations of these galaxies in the local Universe at UV wavelengths have revealed a significant fraction (30%) of ETGs to have recently formed a small fraction (5-10%) of their stellar mass in young stars. I extend the study of recent star formation in ETGs to intermediate-redshift 0.35<1.5 with the ERS data. Comparing the mass fraction and age of young stellar populations identified in these ETGs from two-component SED analysis with the morphology of the ETG and the frequency of companions, I find that at this redshift many ETGs are likely to have experienced a minor burst of recent star formation. The mechanisms driving this recent star formation are varied, and evidence for both minor merger driven recent star formation as well as the evolution of transitioning ETGs is identified.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013