Peering into the Dim Heart of Active Galaxies: Weak or Buried Monster Black Holes?
Institutions: California Institute of Technology, USA, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA , and University of Cambridge, UK
Prof Madya Dr Nur Adlyka bt. Ainul Annuar is an astrophysicist currently working as a senior lecturer at the Department of Applied Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
The heart of active galaxies are powered by supermassive black holes (SMBHs) which are actively devouring materials around them. These BHs will form regions called active galactic nuclei (AGN). They are believed to have an impact on the growth of their host galaxies. Although the standard model of an AGN has been successful in describing the physical structure for most AGNs, there is some evidence that it might not be valid for a weak AGN. The study of these objects is therefore important in helping us further test the validity of AGN physical models. AGNs however, can appear to be weak, but in fact they are powerful objects that are deeply buried by clouds of gas and dust.
Many studies have shown that these hidden AGNs are actually a phase in the AGN evolution in which the BHs are actively growing. Identifying them is important towards our understanding of the co-evolution between AGN and their host galaxies. The main objective of this research is to determine the true power of weak AGNs in our local universe. We will first select an initial sample of what appears to be a weak AGN from the Swift-BAT Telescope Survey Catalog. We will then utilise both current data available on the online archive, and acquire new data from various multiwavelength astronomical telescopes, such as NASA’s NuSTAR, Chandra, and WISE.
All data will be reduced and analysed using computer simulations, softwares and pipelines. Detailed analyses using photometric and spectroscopic techniques will be performed in order to determine the true power of the AGN. This will allow us to distinguish between those that are intrinsically weak and those that are actually monsters buried under enshrouding gas and dust.
This study will help us to form a complete census of the AGN population in our universe over a broad range of power. This will provide us with a complete view on the impact of AGN on their host galaxies, which in turn will help us further understand the impact of the SMBH in our own galaxy on the Milky Way.