The dichotomy of Seyfert 2 galaxies: intrinsic differences and evolution
Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote
Sensing, National Observatory of Athens,
Palaia Penteli Athens,
Accepted: 20 August 2014
We present a study of the local environment (≤200 h-1 kpc) of 31 hidden broad line region (HBLR) and 43 non-HBLR Seyfert 2 (Sy2) galaxies in the nearby universe (z ≤ 0.04). To compare our findings, we constructed two control samples that match the redshift and the morphological type distribution of the HBLR and non-HBLR samples. We used the NASA Extragalactic Database (NED) to find all neighboring galaxies within a projected radius of 200 h-1 kpc around each galaxy, and a radial velocity difference δu ≤ 500 km s-1. Using the digitized Schmidt survey plates (DSS) and/or the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), when available, we confirmed that our sample of Seyfert companions is complete. We find that, within a projected radius of at least 150 h-1 kpc around each Seyfert, the fraction of non-HBLR Sy2 galaxies with a close companion is significantly higher than that of their control sample, at the 96% confidence level. Interestingly, the difference is due to the high frequency of mergers in the non-HBLR sample, seven versus only one in the control sample, while they also present a high number of hosts with signs of peculiar morphology. In sharp contrast, the HBLR sample is consistent with its control sample. Furthermore, the number of the HBLR host galaxies that present peculiar morphology, which probably implies some level of interactions or merging in the past, is the lowest in all four galaxy samples. Given that the HBLR Sy2 galaxies are essentially Seyfert 1 (Sy1) with their broad line region (BLR) hidden because of the obscuring torus, while the non-HBLR Sy2 galaxies probably also include true Sy2s that lack the BLR as well as heavily obscured objects that prevent even the indirect detection of the BLR, our results are discussed within the context of an evolutionary sequence of activity triggered by close galaxy interactions and merging. We argue that the non-HBLR Sy2 galaxies may represent different stages of this sequence, possibly the beginning and the end of the nuclear activity.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: nuclei / galaxies: Seyfert / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: interactions
© ESO, 2014