Determining Recent Stellar Formation in the Locality of Active Galactic Nuclei

SCIENCE

Daniel Fabrizio

Since the moment of their initial detection, the existence of super massive black holes (SMBH) has forever altered our perception of galaxy evolution. It has been observationally suggested (e.g. Terao et al. 2016), that the presence ofSMBHs occupying galactic centers, play an intricate role in the evolution of their host galaxies. Although SMBHs have been the focus of countless studies over the years, our understanding of them is still incomplete, and their exact role in galactic evolution remains undetermined. It is on this note that I propose, in an attempt to broaden our understanding of SMBHs and galaxy evolution alike, a project to measure the presence of recent stellar formation in the central kiloparsec of
active galactic nuclei (AGN).


In collaboration with Dr. Erin Hicks (head of the UAA Galaxy Evolution Group), and utilizing data provided by the KONA Survey (Mueller Sanchez, Hicks et al. 2018), I will analyze the molecular hydrogen (II, (1-0) S(l) 2.12 microns) and brackett gamma (Bry 2.16 microns) emission spectra of 40 nearby Seyfert galaxies to determine the degree of recent star formation. lbis will be accomplished by measuring the ratio of the azimuthally averaged H2 and Bry emission line flux, the ratio of which is an indicator of the gas excitation source. The extent to which II, is excited by recent star formation will then be considered against other properties, such as the rate of growth of the SMBH, in an effort to explore fundamental implications of co-evolution with the host galaxy. The objective of this particular project is of significant relevance to the goals of both the KONA survey and the NASA Cosmic Origins Program, as well as in supporting future NASA endeavours, such as the James Webb Space Telescope. 

Profile

Name: Daniel Fabrizio, Undergraduate Student

Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage

Major: Chemistry

Mentor: Erin Hicks, ekhicks@alaska.edu

Award: Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2020 to 2021