The Coincidence of Nuclear Star Clusters and Active Galactic Nuclei

Seth, Anil; Agüeros, Marcel Andre; Lee, Duane; Basu-Zych, Antara

We study galaxies that host both nuclear star clusters and AGNs, implying the presence of a massive black hole. We select a sample of 176 galaxies with previously detected nuclear star clusters that range from ellipticals to late-type spirals. We search for AGNs in this sample using optical spectroscopy and archival radio and X-ray data. We find galaxies of all Hubble types and with a wide range of masses (109-1011 M☉) hosting both AGNs and nuclear star clusters. From the optical spectra, we classify 10% of the galaxies as AGN and an additional 15% as composite, indicating a mix of AGN and star formation spectra. The fraction of nucleated galaxies with AGNs increases strongly as a function of galaxy and nuclear star cluster mass. For galaxies with both a nuclear star cluster and a black hole, we find that the masses of these two objects are quite similar. However, nondetections of black holes in Local Group nuclear star clusters show that not all clusters host black holes of similar masses. We discuss the implications of our results for the formation of nuclear star clusters and massive black holes.


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Astrophysical Journal

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IOP Science
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April 6, 2016