Spectral decomposition of broad-line AGNs and host galaxies

Daniel E. Vanden Berk, Jiajian Shen, Ching Wa Yip, Donald P. Schneider, Andrew J. Connolly, Ross E. Burton, Sebastian Jester, Patrick B. Hall, Alex S. Szalay, John Brinkmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Using an eigenspectrum decomposition technique, we separate the host galaxy from the broad-line active galactic nucleus (AGN) in a set of 4666 spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), from redshifts near zero up to about 0.75. The decomposition technique uses separate sets of galaxy and quasar eigenspectra to efficiently and reliably separate the AGN and host spectroscopic components. The technique accurately reproduces the host galaxy spectrum, its contributing fraction, and its classification. We show how the accuracy of the decomposition depends on the S/N, host galaxy fraction, and galaxy class. On the basis of the eigencoefficients, the sample of SDSS broad-line AGN host galaxies spans a wide range of spectral types, but the distribution differs significantly from inactive galaxies. In particular, poststarburst activity appears to be much more common among AGN host galaxies. The luminosities of the hosts are much higher than expected for normal early-type galaxies, and their colors become increasingly bluer than early-type galaxies with increasing host luminosity. Most of the AGNs with detected hosts are emitting at between 1% and 10% of their estimated Eddington luminosities, but the sensitivity of the technique usually does not extend to the Eddington limit. There are mild correlations among the AGN and host galaxy eigencoefficients, possibly indicating a link between recent star formation and the onset of AGN activity. The catalog of spectral reconstruction parameters is also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-99
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Spectral decomposition of broad-line AGNs and host galaxies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this