Merger histories and environments of dwarf AGN in IllustrisTNG

Mikkel T. Kristensen, Kevin A. Pimbblet, Brad Gibson, Samantha Penny, Sophie Koudmani

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The relationship between active galactic nuclei activity and environment has been long discussed, but it is unclear if these relations extend into the dwarf galaxy mass regime -- in part due to the limits in both observations and simulations. We aim to investigate if the merger histories and environments are significantly different between AGN and non-AGN dwarf galaxies in cosmological simulations, which may be indicative of the importance of these for AGN activity in dwarf galaxies, and whether these results are in line with observations. Using the IllustrisTNG flagship TNG100-1 run, 6\,771 dwarf galaxies are found with 3\,863 (∼57 per cent) having some level of AGN activity. In order to quantify 'environment', two measures are used: 1) the distance to a galaxy's 10th nearest neighbour at 6 redshifts and 2) the time since last merger for three different minimum merger mass ratios. A similar analysis is run on TNG50-1 and Illustris-1 to test for the robustness of the findings. Both measures yield significantly different distributions between AGN and non-AGN galaxies; more non-AGN than AGN galaxies have long term residence in dense environments while recent (≤4 Gyr) minor mergers are more common for intermediate AGN activity. While no statements are made about the micro- or macrophysics from these results, it is nevertheless indicative of a non-neglible role of mergers and environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127
Number of pages19
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021


  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/R000840/1
  • active galaxies
  • dwarf galaxies
  • galaxy mergers
  • galaxy interactions
  • galaxy environments
  • galaxy evolution


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