Major mergers, minor players: New method finds no merger-AGN connection
The importance and consequences of galaxy mergers
Tim Hewlett
Carolin Villforth (University of Bath)
University of St Andrews
Theoretical work has established a paradigm in which galaxy mergers induce intense periods of black hole growth and transform galaxy morphologies into quiescent ellipticals in the process. However, the observational evidence for a strong link between major mergers and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) has been mixed over the last decade. We present a sample of 106 luminous type 1 AGN (bolometric luminosities ∼10^44 - 10^46 erg s-1) from the COSMOS field and over a wide range of redshifts (0.5 und with this metric, in contradiction to conjecture that the most luminous AGN must be triggered by mergers. In addition, there is no significant difference between the number of AGN and the number of controls in different bins of disturbance. The data is approximately consistent with no evolution of triggering mechanism with cosmic time.


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