The dependence of AGN activity on environment in SDSS

Zhong-yi Man, Ying-jie Peng, Xu Kong, Ke-xin Guo, Cheng-peng Zhang, Jing Dou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Web of Science)


Environment is one of the key external drivers of the galaxies, while active galactic nucleus ( AGN) is one of the key internal drivers. Both of them play fundamental roles in regulating the formation and evolution of galaxies. We explore the interrelationship between environment and AGN in SDSS. At a given stellar mass, the specific star formation rate distribution of the AGN host galaxies remains unchanged with overdensity, with the peak of the distribution around the Green Valley. We show that, at a given stellar mass, the AGN fraction that has been commonly used in previous studies ( defined as the number of AGNs relative to all galaxies including passive and star forming ones) does decrease with increasing overdensity for satellites. This is largely due to the fact that the fraction of passive galaxies strongly depends on environment. In order to investigate the intrinsic correlation between AGN and environment, especially under the assumption that AGN feedback is responsible for star formation quenching, the AGN fraction should be defined as the number of AGNs relative to the star-forming galaxies only. With the new definition, we find little dependence of AGN fraction on overdensity, central/satellite, and group halo mass. There is only marginal evidence that AGN may prefer denser regions, which is possibly due to more frequent interaction of galaxies or higher merger rate in groups. Our results support the scenario that internal secular evolution is the predominant mechanism of triggering AGN activity, while external environment related processes only play a minor role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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