Characterization of a candidate dual AGN

Lena, D.; Panizo-Espinar, G.; Jonker, P. G.; Torres, M. A. P.; Heida, M.
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 478, Issue 1, p.1326-1340

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We present Chandra and optical observations of a candidate dual active galactic nucleus (AGN) discovered serendipitously while searching for recoiling black holes via a cross-correlation between the serendipitous XMM source catalogue (2XMMi) and SDSS-DR7 galaxies with a separation no larger than 10 times the sum of their Petrosian radii. The system has a stellar mass ratio M1/M2 ≈ 0.7. One of the galaxies (Source 1) shows clear evidence for AGN activity in the form of hard X-ray emission and optical emission-line diagnostics typical of AGN ionization. The nucleus of the other galaxy (Source 2) has a soft X-ray spectrum, bluer colours, and optical emission-line ratios dominated by stellar photoionization with a `composite' signature, which might indicate the presence of a weak AGN. When plotted on a diagram with X-ray luminosity versus [OIII] luminosity, both nuclei fall within the locus defined by local Seyfert galaxies. From the optical spectrum, we estimate the electron densities finding n1 < 27 e- cm-3 and n2 ≈ 200 e- cm-3. From a 2D decomposition of the surface brightness distribution, we infer that both galaxies host rotationally supported bulges (Sérsic index <1). While the active nature of Source 1 can be established with confidence, whether the nucleus of Source 2 is active remains a matter of debate. Evidence that a faint AGN might reside in its nucleus is, however, tantalizing.
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