Variability-selected active galactic nuclei from supernova search in the Chandra deep field south*
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, P.le A. Moro 2, 00185 Roma, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, Garching 85748, Germany
3 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”, via delle Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133 Roma, Italy
4 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy
5 ASI Science Data Centre, c/o ESRIN, via G. Galilei, 00044 Frascati, Italy
Accepted: 13 May 2008
Context. Variability is a property shared by virtually all active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and was adopted as a criterion for their selection using data from multi epoch surveys. Low Luminosity AGNs (LLAGNs) are contaminated by the light of their host galaxies, and cannot therefore be detected by the usual colour techniques. For this reason, their evolution in cosmic time is poorly known. Consistency with the evolution derived from X-ray detected samples has not been clearly established so far, also because the low luminosity population consists of a mixture of different object types. LLAGNs can be detected by the nuclear optical variability of extended objects.
Aims. Several variability surveys have been, or are being, conducted for the detection of supernovae (SNe). We propose to re-analyse these SNe data using a variability criterion optimised for AGN detection, to select a new AGN sample and study its properties.
Methods. We analysed images acquired with the wide field imager at the 2.2 m ESO/MPI telescope, in the framework of the STRESS supernova survey. We selected the AXAF field centred on the Chandra Deep Field South where, besides the deep X-ray survey, various optical data exist, originating in the EIS and COMBO-17 photometric surveys and the spectroscopic database of GOODS.
Results. We obtained a catalogue of 132 variable AGN candidates. Several of the candidates are X-ray sources. We compare our results with an HST variability study of X-ray and IR detected AGNs, finding consistent results. The relatively high fraction of confirmed AGNs in our sample (60%) allowed us to extract a list of reliable AGN candidates for spectroscopic follow-up observations.
Key words: surveys / galaxies: active / galaxies: quasars: general / X-rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2008