Naked active galactic nuclei
Institute for Astronomy (IfA), University of Edinburgh, Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, Scotland, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 29 May 2004
In this paper we report the discovery of a new class of active galactic nucleus in which although the nucleus is viewed directly, no broad emission lines are present. The results are based on a survey for AGN in which a sample of about 800 quasars and emission line galaxies were monitored yearly for 25 years. Among the emission line galaxies was the expected population of Seyfert 2 galaxies with only narrow forbidden lines in emission, and no broad lines. However, from the long term monitoring programme it was clear that some 10% of these were strongly variable with strong continuum emission. It is argued that these objects can only be Seyfert 1 galaxies in which the nucleus is viewed directly, but in which broad emission lines are completely absent. We compare these observations with other cases from the literature where the broad line region is reported to be weak or variable, and investigate the possibility that the absence of the broad line component is due to reddening. We conclude that this does not account for the observations, and that in these AGN the broad line region is absent. We also tentatively identify more luminous quasars from our sample where the broad emission lines also appear to be absent. The consequences of this for AGN models are discussed, and a case is made that we are seeing AGN in a transition stage between the fuel supply from a surrounding star cluster being cut off, and the nucleus becoming dormant.
Key words: galaxies: quasars: general / galaxies: active
© ESO, 2004