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R. Dudik, S. Satyapal, B. O'Halloran (George Mason University), D. Watson (University of Rochester)
The mechanism that triggers nuclear activity in "currently" active galaxies, or AGN has been a long-standing question. While it is widely accepted that the onset of activity results from the feeding of the black hole by the gas reservoir of the host galaxy, there is no consensus on the means by which angular momentum is removed or how the gas infall is driven down to scales of less than a parsec. A number of processes for removing the angular momentum of the gas have been proposed. However, despite many years of observational effort, no strong correlations between the presence of any of the proposed large-scale fueling mechanisms in AGNs have been found. We explore this question using archival Spitzer observations of a sample of local AGN ranging across 5 orders of magnitude in their Eddington ratios. We find strong evidence that the accretion is fundamentally linked to the environment in the host galaxy.
This work was made possible by financial support from NASA.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.