The southern 2MASS active Galactic nuclei survey: spectroscopic follow-up with six degree field

Frank J. Masci, Roc M. Cutri, Paul J. Francis, Brant O. Nelson, John P. Huchra, D. Heath Jones, Matthew Colless, Will Saunders

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The Two Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS) has provided a uniform photometric catalog to search for previously unknown red active galactic nuclei (AGN) and Quasi-Stellar Objects (QSOs). We have extended the search to the southern equatorial sky by obtaining spectra for 1182 AGN candidates using the six degree field (6dF) multifibre spectrograph on the UK Schmidt Telescope. These were scheduled as auxiliary targets for the 6dF Galaxy Redshift Survey. The candidates were selected using a single color cut of J-Ks > 2 to Ks ≲ 15.5 and a galactic latitude of |b|> 30°. 432 spectra were of sufficient quality to enable a reliable classification. 116 sources (∼27%) were securely classified as type I AGN, 20 as probable type I AGN, and 57 as probable type II AGN. Most of them span the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.5 and only 8 (∼6%) were previously identified as AGN or QSOs. Our selection leads to a significantly higher AGN identification rate amongst local galaxies (>20%) than in any previous (mostly blue-selected) galaxy survey. A small fraction of the type I AGN could have their optical colors reddened by optically thin dust with AV < 2mag relative to optically selected QSOs. A handful show evidence of excess far-infrared (IR) emission. The equivalent width (EW) and color distributions of the type I and II AGN are consistent with AGN unified models. In particular, the EW of the [Oiii] emission line weakly correlates with opticalnear-IR color in each class of AGN, suggesting anisotropic obscuration of the AGN continuum. Overall, the optical properties of the 2MASS red AGN are not dramatically different from those of optically-selected QSOs. Our near-IR selection appears to detect the most near-IR luminous QSOs in the local universe to z≃0.6 and provides incentive to extend the search to deeper near-IR surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-320
Number of pages19
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: active
  • infrared: general
  • quasars: general
  • surveys


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