Within the compact central region of approximately 3 percent of galaxies, there is evidence for luminous light emission at 22 GHz originating in Microwaves Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (masers) from water molecules. More than 60% of these detections reveal intensities millions of times greater than that of the very first masers discovered in our own Milky Way galaxy, and are therefore called megamasers. About 30% of these megamasers are found in a disk-like configuration, offering unprecedented tools for accurate measurements of: (1) direct distances to their host galaxies, as well as (2) the masses of the central black holes which are usually millions to billions of times more massive than our own Sun, and which reside in the centers of these systems. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of these megamaser disks that we are able to investigate in great detail. In an attempt to increase the detection rate, we are conducting a study of the physical properties of their host galaxies, with the hope of identifying galaxy traits connected to this megamaser disk phenomenon. In this project, we present our techniques for public data collection of the total flux emitted across the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e., building spectral energy distributions; SEDs), with the goal of quantifying the degree to which various energetic components contribute to the total galaxy light. Out SED plots will be used to best diagnose the relations between the 22 GHz emission and that from nuclear accretion, stellar light, or the reprocessing by surrounding dust. This method will allow for more efficient identification of the types of galaxies that are most likely to host megamaser disks in order to increase their detection rate.

Additional Abstract Information

Student(s): Sloane McNeill

Department: Physics and Astronomy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Anca Constantin

Type: Poster

Year: 2019

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