Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Space & Planetary Sciences (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Claud H. Lacy

Committee Member

John Dixon

Second Committee Member

Julio Gea-Banacloche

Third Committee Member

Daniel Stern

Fourth Committee Member

Rick Ulrich

Abstract

I have investigated the nature of a subset of active galactic nuclei (AGN) which show double peaks in their characteristic optical and ultraviolet emission lines. I have performed this investigation through studies of the broad emission line regions (BLRs), which are produced less than 1 pc from the central supermassive black hole (SMBH), and the narrow emission line regions (NLRs), which originate at larger (kpc) distances. The BLR studies consist of detailed line modeling of two individual quasars with double-peaked broad emission line profiles. The modeling suggests there are two primary interpretations of the complex broad line profiles. The first possiblity is line emission from the surface of an asymmetric and/or non-uniform accretion disk of a low-accretion rate AGN; these sources are known as double-peaked emitters and account for only about 3% of the quasar population. The second possibility is line emission from the BLRs of two actively accreting SMBHs in a close (pc) binary system. Such binaries are an inevitable outcome following the merger of two galaxies. The NLR studies consist of three separate projects. The first is an analysis of a candidate AGN pair (dual AGN), with a separation of 5.5 kpc, in a galaxy at a redshift of z=1.175; this scenario would be the result of a galaxy merger and represent the stage prior to the formation of a binary SMBH. The second is the identification of similar candidate dual AGN sources in a systematic study of quasars at redshifts z=0.8-1.6. The final project analyzes follow-up long-slit spectroscopy of two quasars found through the systematic search which are most likely to host AGN-driven outflows. Overall, the combined results for these NLR studies show that a significant fraction of the double-peaked narrow emission lines are produced by AGN-driven outflows. Furthermore, diagnostics based upon ionization potentials can effectively select sources most likely to possess these outflows, and those which are more likely to host dual AGN. Finally, follow-up observations in the form of long-slit spectroscopy and high-resolution imaging have proven effective at distinguishing between those scenarios.

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