Galaxy Zoo: the effect of bar-driven fueling on the presence of an active galactic nucleus in disc galaxies

Melanie A. Galloway, Kyle W. Willett, Lucy F. Fortson, Carolin N. Cardamone, Kevin Schawinski, Edmond Cheung, Chris J. Lintott, Karen L. Masters, Thomas Melvin, Brooke D. Simmons

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We study the influence of the presence of a strong bar in disc galaxies which host an active galactic nucleus (AGN). Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and morphological classifications from the Galaxy Zoo 2 project, we create a volume- limited sample of 19,756 disc galaxies at 0:01 < z < 0:05 which have been visually examined for the presence of a bar. Within this sample, AGN host galaxies have a higher overall percentage of bars (51.8%) than inactive galaxies exhibiting central star formation (37.1%). This difference is primarily due to known effects; that the presence of both AGN and galactic bars is strongly correlated with both the stellar mass and integrated colour of the host galaxy. We control for this effect by examining the difference in AGN fraction between barred and unbarred galaxies in fixed bins of mass and colour. Once this effect is accounted for, there remains a small but statistically significant increase that represents 16% of the average barred AGN fraction. Using the L[O III]/MBH ratio as a measure of AGN strength, we show that barred AGN do not exhibit stronger accretion than unbarred AGN at a fixed mass and colour. The data are consistent with a model in which bar-driven fueling does contribute to the probability of an actively growing black hole, but in which other dynamical mechanisms must contribute to the direct AGN fueling via smaller, non-axisymmetric perturbations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3442-3454
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date11 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2015


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.CO
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: Seyfert
  • galaxies: spiral


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