Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies

Kevin Schawinski, Daniel Thomas, Marc Sarzi, Claudia Maraston, Sugata Kaviraj, Seok Joo Joo, Sukyoung Yi, Joseph Silk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

384 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A major amendment in recent models of hierarchical galaxy formation is the inclusion of so-called active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback. The energy input from an active central massive black hole is invoked to suppress star formation in early-type galaxies at later epochs. A major problem is that this process is poorly understood, and compelling observational evidence for its mere existence is still missing. In search for signatures of AGN feedback, we have compiled a sample of 16 000 early-type galaxies in the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.1 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data base (MOSES: Morphologically Selected Ellipticals in SDSS). Key in our approach is the use of a purely morphological selection criterion through visual inspection which produces a sample that is not biased against recent star formation and nuclear activity. Based on the nebular emission-line characteristics we separate between star formation activity, black hole activity, the composite of the two and quiescence. We find that emission is mostly LINER (low ionization nuclear emission line region) like in high-mass galaxies (σ > 200 km s -1) and roughly evenly distributed between star formation and AGN at intermediate and low (σ < 100 km s -1) masses. The objects with emission (∼20 per cent) are offset from the red sequence and form a well-defined pattern in the colour-mass diagram. Star-forming early-types inhabit the blue cloud, while early-types with AGN are located considerably closer to and almost on the red sequence. Star formation-AGN composites are found right between these two extremes. We further derive galaxy star formation histories using a novel method that combines multiwavelength photometry from near-ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (IR) and stellar absorption indices. We find that in those objects deviating from the red sequence star formation occurred several 100 Myr in the past involving 1-10 per cent of the total stellar mass. We identify an evolutionary sequence from star formation via nuclear activity to quiescence. This transition process lasts about 1 Gyr, and the peak AGN phase occurs roughly half a Gyr after the starburst. The most likely interpretation is that star formation is suppressed by nuclear activity in these objects before they settle on the red sequence. This is empirical evidence for the occurrence of AGN feedback in early-type galaxies at recent epochs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1431
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume382
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Dec 1

Fingerprint

active galactic nuclei
star formation
galaxies
near infrared
diagram
time measurement
history
galactic evolution
energy
stellar mass
photometry
diagrams
signatures
histories
occurrences
inclusions
color
stars
composite materials
index

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Schawinski, K., Thomas, D., Sarzi, M., Maraston, C., Kaviraj, S., Joo, S. J., ... Silk, J. (2007). Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 382(4), 1415-1431. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12487.x
Schawinski, Kevin ; Thomas, Daniel ; Sarzi, Marc ; Maraston, Claudia ; Kaviraj, Sugata ; Joo, Seok Joo ; Yi, Sukyoung ; Silk, Joseph. / Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies. In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 2007 ; Vol. 382, No. 4. pp. 1415-1431.
@article{04cad3f385b1468f8622ccaf2acf5483,
title = "Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies",
abstract = "A major amendment in recent models of hierarchical galaxy formation is the inclusion of so-called active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback. The energy input from an active central massive black hole is invoked to suppress star formation in early-type galaxies at later epochs. A major problem is that this process is poorly understood, and compelling observational evidence for its mere existence is still missing. In search for signatures of AGN feedback, we have compiled a sample of 16 000 early-type galaxies in the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.1 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data base (MOSES: Morphologically Selected Ellipticals in SDSS). Key in our approach is the use of a purely morphological selection criterion through visual inspection which produces a sample that is not biased against recent star formation and nuclear activity. Based on the nebular emission-line characteristics we separate between star formation activity, black hole activity, the composite of the two and quiescence. We find that emission is mostly LINER (low ionization nuclear emission line region) like in high-mass galaxies (σ > 200 km s -1) and roughly evenly distributed between star formation and AGN at intermediate and low (σ < 100 km s -1) masses. The objects with emission (∼20 per cent) are offset from the red sequence and form a well-defined pattern in the colour-mass diagram. Star-forming early-types inhabit the blue cloud, while early-types with AGN are located considerably closer to and almost on the red sequence. Star formation-AGN composites are found right between these two extremes. We further derive galaxy star formation histories using a novel method that combines multiwavelength photometry from near-ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (IR) and stellar absorption indices. We find that in those objects deviating from the red sequence star formation occurred several 100 Myr in the past involving 1-10 per cent of the total stellar mass. We identify an evolutionary sequence from star formation via nuclear activity to quiescence. This transition process lasts about 1 Gyr, and the peak AGN phase occurs roughly half a Gyr after the starburst. The most likely interpretation is that star formation is suppressed by nuclear activity in these objects before they settle on the red sequence. This is empirical evidence for the occurrence of AGN feedback in early-type galaxies at recent epochs.",
author = "Kevin Schawinski and Daniel Thomas and Marc Sarzi and Claudia Maraston and Sugata Kaviraj and Joo, {Seok Joo} and Sukyoung Yi and Joseph Silk",
year = "2007",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12487.x",
language = "English",
volume = "382",
pages = "1415--1431",
journal = "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society",
issn = "0035-8711",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "4",

}

Schawinski, K, Thomas, D, Sarzi, M, Maraston, C, Kaviraj, S, Joo, SJ, Yi, S & Silk, J 2007, 'Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 382, no. 4, pp. 1415-1431. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12487.x

Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies. / Schawinski, Kevin; Thomas, Daniel; Sarzi, Marc; Maraston, Claudia; Kaviraj, Sugata; Joo, Seok Joo; Yi, Sukyoung; Silk, Joseph.

In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 382, No. 4, 01.12.2007, p. 1415-1431.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Observational evidence for AGN feedback in early-type galaxies

AU - Schawinski, Kevin

AU - Thomas, Daniel

AU - Sarzi, Marc

AU - Maraston, Claudia

AU - Kaviraj, Sugata

AU - Joo, Seok Joo

AU - Yi, Sukyoung

AU - Silk, Joseph

PY - 2007/12/1

Y1 - 2007/12/1

N2 - A major amendment in recent models of hierarchical galaxy formation is the inclusion of so-called active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback. The energy input from an active central massive black hole is invoked to suppress star formation in early-type galaxies at later epochs. A major problem is that this process is poorly understood, and compelling observational evidence for its mere existence is still missing. In search for signatures of AGN feedback, we have compiled a sample of 16 000 early-type galaxies in the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.1 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data base (MOSES: Morphologically Selected Ellipticals in SDSS). Key in our approach is the use of a purely morphological selection criterion through visual inspection which produces a sample that is not biased against recent star formation and nuclear activity. Based on the nebular emission-line characteristics we separate between star formation activity, black hole activity, the composite of the two and quiescence. We find that emission is mostly LINER (low ionization nuclear emission line region) like in high-mass galaxies (σ > 200 km s -1) and roughly evenly distributed between star formation and AGN at intermediate and low (σ < 100 km s -1) masses. The objects with emission (∼20 per cent) are offset from the red sequence and form a well-defined pattern in the colour-mass diagram. Star-forming early-types inhabit the blue cloud, while early-types with AGN are located considerably closer to and almost on the red sequence. Star formation-AGN composites are found right between these two extremes. We further derive galaxy star formation histories using a novel method that combines multiwavelength photometry from near-ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (IR) and stellar absorption indices. We find that in those objects deviating from the red sequence star formation occurred several 100 Myr in the past involving 1-10 per cent of the total stellar mass. We identify an evolutionary sequence from star formation via nuclear activity to quiescence. This transition process lasts about 1 Gyr, and the peak AGN phase occurs roughly half a Gyr after the starburst. The most likely interpretation is that star formation is suppressed by nuclear activity in these objects before they settle on the red sequence. This is empirical evidence for the occurrence of AGN feedback in early-type galaxies at recent epochs.

AB - A major amendment in recent models of hierarchical galaxy formation is the inclusion of so-called active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback. The energy input from an active central massive black hole is invoked to suppress star formation in early-type galaxies at later epochs. A major problem is that this process is poorly understood, and compelling observational evidence for its mere existence is still missing. In search for signatures of AGN feedback, we have compiled a sample of 16 000 early-type galaxies in the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.1 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data base (MOSES: Morphologically Selected Ellipticals in SDSS). Key in our approach is the use of a purely morphological selection criterion through visual inspection which produces a sample that is not biased against recent star formation and nuclear activity. Based on the nebular emission-line characteristics we separate between star formation activity, black hole activity, the composite of the two and quiescence. We find that emission is mostly LINER (low ionization nuclear emission line region) like in high-mass galaxies (σ > 200 km s -1) and roughly evenly distributed between star formation and AGN at intermediate and low (σ < 100 km s -1) masses. The objects with emission (∼20 per cent) are offset from the red sequence and form a well-defined pattern in the colour-mass diagram. Star-forming early-types inhabit the blue cloud, while early-types with AGN are located considerably closer to and almost on the red sequence. Star formation-AGN composites are found right between these two extremes. We further derive galaxy star formation histories using a novel method that combines multiwavelength photometry from near-ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (IR) and stellar absorption indices. We find that in those objects deviating from the red sequence star formation occurred several 100 Myr in the past involving 1-10 per cent of the total stellar mass. We identify an evolutionary sequence from star formation via nuclear activity to quiescence. This transition process lasts about 1 Gyr, and the peak AGN phase occurs roughly half a Gyr after the starburst. The most likely interpretation is that star formation is suppressed by nuclear activity in these objects before they settle on the red sequence. This is empirical evidence for the occurrence of AGN feedback in early-type galaxies at recent epochs.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=37349128993&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=37349128993&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12487.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12487.x

M3 - Article

VL - 382

SP - 1415

EP - 1431

JO - Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

JF - Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

SN - 0035-8711

IS - 4

ER -