The census of nuclear activity of late-type galaxies in the Virgo cluster

R. Decarli, G. Gavazzi, I. Arosio, Luca Cortese, A. Boselli, C. Bonfanti, M. Colpi

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49 Citations (Scopus)


The first spectroscopic census of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) associated with late-type galaxies in the Virgo cluster was carried out by observing 213 out of a complete set of 237 galaxies more massive than Mdyn > 108.5 M?. Among them, 77 are classified as AGNs [including 21 transition objects, 47 low-ionization nuclear emission regions (LINERs) and nine Seyferts] and comprise 32 per cent of the late-type galaxies in Virgo. Due to spectroscopic incompleteness, at most 21 AGNs are missed in the survey, so that the fraction would increase up to 41 per cent. Using corollary near-infrared observations that enable us to estimate galaxy dynamical masses, it is found that AGNs are hosted exclusively in massive galaxies, i.e. M dyn ? 1010 M?. Their frequency increases steeply with the dynamical mass from zero at Mdyn ˜ 109.5 M? to virtually 1 at Mdyn > 1011.5 M?. These frequencies are consistent with those of low-luminosity AGNs found in the general field by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Massive galaxies that harbour AGNs commonly show conspicuous r-band star-like nuclear enhancements. Conversely, they often, but not necessarily, contain massive bulges. A few well-known AGNs (e.g. M61, M100, NGC 4535) are found in massive Sc galaxies with little or no bulge. The AGN fraction seems to be only marginally sensitive to galaxy environment. We infer the black hole masses using the known scaling relations of quiescent black holes. No black holes lighter than ~106 M? are found active in our sample. © 2007 RAS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-150
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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