Volume 519, September 2010
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||14 September 2010|
Tracing the merger-driven evolution of active galaxies using the CJF sample
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 I. Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
Accepted: 4 May 2010
Context. For the evolution of large-scale structures in the Universe, it is unclear whether active galaxies represent a phase that each galaxy undergoes, and whether and to which extent the evolution of black holes at their centers is important. Binary black hole (BBH) systems may play a key role in our understanding of the above questions.
Aims. We investigate the Caltech-Jodrell Bank flat-spectrum (CJF) sample to identify evidence that supports the merger-driven evolution scheme of active galaxies, and search for tracer-systems of active galactic nucleus (AGN) evolution and possible BBH candidates. We discuss the strength of and uncertainty in the evidence and formulate a set of selection criteria to detect such tracer-systems.
Methods. We conduct an extensive literature search for all available multiwavelength data, particularly in the optical and infrared regime, and morphological information about the CJF sources. We perform a statistical analysis of the properties of this sample.
Results. We find 1 ULIRG (Mrk 231) included in the CJF prototype of a transitory system. In total, 28.6% of the CJF sources with z ≤ 0.4 are distorted or have a companion. Given the unbiased sample used here, this provides strong evidence of the ubiquity of the merger phenomenon in the context of active galaxies. We find a correlation between the radio and the near-infrared luminosity of the high-luminosity sources, interpreted in the context of the interplay between a star-formation and AGN component. We find a connection between variability and evolutionary transitory systems, as selected on the basis of their near-infrared colors. We select 28 sources that trace the different evolution phases of an AGN, as well as a number of the most promising BBH candidates. We find 4 sources with almost periodical variability in the optical and radio on similar timescales.
Key words: galaxies: statistics / galaxies: active / galaxies: nuclei / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: fundamental parameters / galaxies: jets
© ESO, 2010
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