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Resolving the active galactic nucleus and host emission in the mid-infrared using a model-independent spectral decomposition

AuthorsHernán-Caballero, Antonio ; Alonso-Herrero, A. ; Hatziminaoglou, E.; Ramos-Almeida, Cristina; Díaz-Santos, T. ; González-Martín, Omaira ; Esquej, Pilar
KeywordsGalaxies: Seyfert
Techniques: spectroscopic
Methods: data analysis
Infrared: galaxies
Galaxies: starburst
Galaxies: active
Issue Date2015
PublisherInstitute of Physics Publishing
CitationAstrophysical Journal 803(2): 109 (2015)
AbstractWe present results on the spectral decomposition of 118 Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) spectra from local active galactic nuclei (AGNs) using a large set of Spitzer/IRS spectra as templates. The templates are themselves IRS spectra from extreme cases where a single physical component (stellar, interstellar, or AGN) completely dominates the integrated mid-infrared emission. We show that a linear combination of one template for each physical component reproduces the observed IRS spectra of AGN hosts with unprecedented fidelity for a template fitting method with no need to model extinction separately. We use full probability distribution functions to estimate expectation values and uncertainties for observables, and find that the decomposition results are robust against degeneracies. Furthermore, we compare the AGN spectra derived from the spectral decomposition with sub-arcsecond resolution nuclear photometry and spectroscopy from ground-based observations. We find that the AGN component derived from the decomposition closely matches the nuclear spectrum with a 1σ dispersion of 0.12 dex in luminosity and typical uncertainties of ∼0.19 in the spectral index and ∼0.1 in the silicate strength. We conclude that the emission from the host galaxy can be reliably removed from the IRS spectra of AGNs. This allows for unbiased studies of the AGN emission in intermediate- and high-redshift galaxies - currently inaccesible to ground-based observations - with archival Spitzer/IRS data and in the future with the Mid-InfraRed Instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope. The decomposition code and templates are available at http://denebola.org/ahc/deblendIRS.
DescriptionarXiv:1502.05820v1.-- et al.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/803/2/109
Identifiersdoi: 10.1088/0004-637X/803/2/109
e-issn: 1538-4357
issn: 0004-637X
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