[O iv]- and [Ne v]-weak Active Galactic Nuclei Hidden by Compton-thick Material in Late Mergers

Satoshi Yamada*, Yoshihiro Ueda, Taiki Kawamuro, Claudio Ricci, Yoshiki Toba, Masatoshi Imanishi, Takamitsu Miyaji, Atsushi Tanimoto, Kohei Ichikawa, Martín Herrera-Endoqui, Shoji Ogawa, Ryosuke Uematsu, Keiichi Wada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study “buried” active galactic nuclei (AGNs) almost fully covered by circumnuclear material in ultra/luminous infrared galaxies (U/LIRGs), which show weak ionized lines from narrow-line regions. Employing an indicator of a [O iv] 25.89 or [Ne v] 14.32 μm line to 12 μm AGN luminosity ratio, we find 17 buried AGN candidates that are [O iv]-weak (L [O IV]/L 12,AGN ≤ −3.0) or [Ne v]-weak (L [Ne V]/L 12,AGN ≤ −3.4) among 30 AGNs in local U/LIRGs. For the [O iv]-weak AGNs, we estimate their covering fractions of Compton-thick (CT; N H ≥ 1024 cm−2) material with an X-ray clumpy torus model to be f CT ( spec ) = 0.55 ± 0.19 on average. This value is consistent with the fraction of CT AGNs ( f CT ( stat ) = 53 % ± 12 % ) among the [O iv]-weak AGNs in U/LIRGs and much larger than that in Swift/Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) AGNs (23% ± 6%). The fraction of [O iv]-weak AGNs increases from 27 − 10 + 13 % (early) to 66 − 12 + 10 % (late mergers). Similar results are obtained with the [Ne v] line. The [O iv]- or [Ne v]-weak AGNs in late mergers show larger N H and Eddington ratios (λ Edd) than those of the Swift/BAT AGNs, and the largest N H is ≳1025 cm−2 at log λ Edd ∼ − 1 , close to the effective Eddington limit for CT material. These suggest that (1) the circumnuclear material in buried AGNs is regulated by the radiation force from high-λ Edd AGNs on the CT obscurers, and (2) their dense material with large f CT ( spec ) (∼0.5 ± 0.1) in U/LIRGs is a likely cause of a unique structure of buried AGNs, whose amount of material may be maintained through merger-induced supply from their host galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Apr 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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