A Morphological Study of Galaxies Hosting Optical Variability-selected AGNs in the COSMOS Field

Yuxing Zhong, Akio K. Inoue, Satoshi Yamanaka, Toru Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Morphological studies are crucial to investigate the connections between active galactic nucleus (AGN) activities and the evolution of galaxies. Substantial studies have found that radiative-mode AGNs primarily reside in disk galaxies, questioning the merger-driven mechanism of AGN activities. In this study, through Sérsic profile fitting and nonparametric morphological parameter measurements, we investigated the morphology of host galaxies of 485 optical variability-selected low-luminosity AGNs at z ≲ 4.26 in the COSMOS field. We analyzed high-resolution images of the Hubble Space Telescope to measure these morphological parameters. We only successfully measured the morphological parameters for 76 objects and most AGN hosts (∼70%) were visually compact point-like sources. We examined the obtained morphological information as a function of redshift and compared them with literature data. We found that these AGN host galaxies showed no clear morphological preference. However, the merger rate increased with higher host star formation rate and AGN luminosity. Interestingly, we found ongoing star formation consistent with the typical star-forming populations in both elliptical and spiral galaxies, while these two types of galaxies were more symmetric than normal star-forming galaxies. These results suggest that optical variability-selected AGNs have higher probabilities to reside in elliptical galaxies than infrared-selected AGNs, whose host galaxies have a strong disk dominance, and support recent findings that the AGN feedback can enhance star-forming activities in host galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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