Physical Properties of the Narrow-Line Region of Low-Mass Active Galaxies
We present spectroscopic observations of 27 active galactic nuclei (AGN) with some of the lowest black hole (BH) masses known. We use the high spectral resolution and small aperture of our Keck data, taken with the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager, to isolate the narrow-line regions (NLRs) of these low-mass BHs. We investigate their emission-line properties and compare them with those of AGN with higher-mass black holes. While we are unable to determine absolute metallicities, some of our objects plausibly represent examples of the low-metallicity AGN described by Groves et al. (2006), based on their [N II]/H_alpha ratios and their consistency with the Kewley & Ellison (2008) mass-metallicity relation. We find tentative evidence for steeper far-UV spectral slopes in lower-mass systems. Overall, NLR emission lines in these low-mass AGN exhibit trends similar to those seen in AGN with higher-mass BHs, such as increasing blueshifts and broadening with increasing ionization potential. Additionally, we see evidence of an intermediate line region whose intensity correlates with L/L_Edd, as seen in higher-mass AGN. We highlight the interesting trend that, at least in these low-mass AGN, the [O III] equivalent width (EW) is highest in symmetric NLR lines with no blue wing. This trend of increasing [O III] EW with line symmetry could be explained by a high covering factor of lower ionization gas in the NLR. In general, low-mass AGN preserve many well-known trends in the structure of the NLR, while exhibiting steeper ionizing continuum slopes and somewhat lower gas-phase metallicities.
Molecular and atomic line surveys of galaxies II: unbiased estimates of their star formation mode