STRUCTURE AND MORPHOLOGY OF X-RAY-SELECTED ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEUS HOSTS AT 1 < z < 3 IN THE CANDELS-COSMOS FIELD
Journal article, 2014
We analyze morphologies of the host galaxies of 35 X-ray-selected active galactic nuclei (AGNs) at z similar to 2 in the Cosmic Evolution Survey field using Hubble Space Telescope/WFC3 imaging taken from the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey. We build a control sample of 350 galaxies in total by selecting 10 non-active galaxies drawn from the same field with a similar stellar mass and redshift for each AGN host. By performing two-dimensional fitting with GALFIT on the surface brightness profile, we find that the distribution of the Sersic index (n) of AGN hosts does not show a statistical difference from that of the control sample. We measure the nonparametric morphological parameters (the asymmetry index A, the Gini coefficient G, the concentration index C, and the M-20 index) based on point-source-subtracted images. All the distributions of these morphological parameters of AGN hosts are consistent with those of the control sample. We finally investigate the fraction of distorted morphologies in both samples by visual classification. Only similar to 15% of the AGN hosts have highly distorted morphologies, possibly due to a major merger or interaction. We find there is no significant difference in the distortion fractions between the AGN host sample and control sample. We conclude that the morphologies of X-ray-selected AGN hosts are similar to those of non-active galaxies and most AGN activity is not triggered by a major merger.
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