Azadi_2017_ApJ_835_27.pdf (1.43 MB)

The MOSDEF Survey: AGN Multi-wavelength Identification, Selection Biases, and Host Galaxy Properties

Download (1.43 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 14.08.2018 by Mojegan Azadi, Alison L. Coil, James Aird, Naveen Reddy, Alice Shapley, William R. Freeman, Mariska Kriek, Gene C. K. Leung, Bahram Mobasher, Sedona H. Price, Ryan L. Sanders, Irene Shivaei, Brian Siana
We present results from the MOSFIRE Deep Evolution Field (MOSDEF) survey on the identification, selection biases, and host galaxy properties of 55 X-ray, IR, and optically selected active galactic nuclei (AGNs) at 1.4 < z < 3.8. We obtain rest-frame optical spectra of galaxies and AGNs and use the BPT diagram to identify optical AGNs. We examine the uniqueness and overlap of the AGNs identified at different wavelengths. There is a strong bias against identifying AGNs at any wavelength in low-mass galaxies, and an additional bias against identifying IR AGNs in the most massive galaxies. AGN hosts span a wide range of star formation rates (SFRs), similar to inactive galaxies once stellar mass selection effects are accounted for. However, we find (at ∼2–3σ significance) that IR AGNs are in less dusty galaxies with relatively higher SFR and optical AGNs in dusty galaxies with relatively lower SFR. X-ray AGN selection does not display a bias with host galaxy SFR. These results are consistent with those from larger studies at lower redshifts. Within star-forming galaxies, once selection biases are accounted for, we find AGNs in galaxies with similar physical properties as inactive galaxies, with no evidence for AGN activity in particular types of galaxies. This is consistent with AGNs being fueled stochastically in any star-forming host galaxy. We do not detect a significant correlation between SFR and AGN luminosity for individual AGN hosts, which may indicate the timescale difference between the growth of galaxies and their supermassive black holes.


We thank the MOSFIRE instrument team for building this powerful instrument, and for taking data for us during their commissioning runs. This work would not have been possible without the 3D-HST collaboration, who provided us the spectroscopic and photometric catalogs used to select our targets and to derive stellar population parameters. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with programs 12177, 12328, 12060-12064, 12440-12445, 13056. Funding for the MOSDEF survey is provided by NSF AAG grants AST-1312780, 1312547, 1312764, and 1313171 and grant AR-13907 from the Space Telescope Science Institute. A.L.C. acknowledges support from NSF CAREER award AST-1055081. N.A.R. is supported by an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. J.A. acknowledges support from ERC Advanced Grant FEEDBACK 340442. The data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.



Astrophysical Journal, 2017, 835, pp. 27-27

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Astrophysical Journal


American Astronomical Society, IOP Publishing



Acceptance date


Copyright date


Available date


Publisher version




Logo branding