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2010AJ....139.1199M - Astron. J., 139, 1199-1211 (2010/March-0)

AGN population in Hickson compact groups. I. Data and nuclear activity classification.


Abstract (from CDS):

We have conducted a new spectroscopic survey to characterize the nature of nuclear activity in Hickson compact group (HCG) galaxies and establish its frequency. We have obtained new intermediate-resolution optical spectroscopy for 200 member galaxies and corrected for underlying stellar population contamination using galaxy templates. Spectra for 11 additional galaxies have been acquired from the ESO and 6dF public archives, and emission-line ratios have been taken from the literature for 59 more galaxies. Here we present the results of our classification of the nuclear activity for 270 member galaxies, which belong to a well-defined sample of 64 HCGs. We found a large fraction of galaxies, 63%, with emission lines. Using standard diagnostic diagrams, 45% of the emission-line galaxies were classified as pure active galactic nuclei (AGNs), 23% as Transition Objects (TOs), and 32% as star-forming nuclei (SFNs). In the HCGs, the AGN activity appears as the most frequent activity type. Adopting the interpretation that in TOs a low-luminosity AGN coexists with circumnuclear star formation, the fraction of galaxies with an AGN could rise to 42% of the whole sample. The low frequency (20%) of SFNs confirms that there is no star formation enhancement in HCGs. After extinction correction, we found a median AGN Hα luminosity of 7.1x1039 erg/s, which implies that AGNs in HCG have a characteristically low luminosity. This result added to the fact that there is an almost complete absence of broad-line AGNs in compact groups (CGs) as found by Martínez et al. and corroborated in this study for HCGs, is consistent with very few gas left in these galaxies. In general, therefore, what may characterize the level of activity in CGs is a severe deficiency of gas.

Abstract Copyright:

Journal keyword(s): galaxies: active - galaxies: interactions - galaxies: nuclei - galaxies: starburst

Simbad objects: 171

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