Since the vast majority of galaxies contain supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and galaxy interactions trigger nuclear gas accretion, a direct consequence of the hierarchical model of galaxy formation would be the existence of binary active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The existence, frequency, andcharacteristics of such binary AGNs have important astrophysical implications on the SMBH mass function and the interplay between SMBHs and its host galaxy. Despite decades of searching, and strong theoretical reasons that they should exist, observationally confirmed cases of binary AGNs are extremely rare, and most have been discovered serendipitously.
Our group has been carrying out an infrared and X-ray investigation of interacting galaxies to search for dual AGNs at the smallest pair separations currently known. These studies employ observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and several infrared ground and space-based observations.
Faculty associated with this project: Dr. Shobita Satyapal.