Investigation into the Spatial Distribution of AGN Companion Galaxies in Gravitationally Isolated Environments
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Active galaxies are an important subclass of galaxies, distinguished by an energetic core driven by enhanced accretion onto a central supermassive black hole. However, this accretion mechanism inevitably opens up a problem: what source provides the gaseous fuel for black hole accretion? In this research project, we examine the possibility that these active galaxies have engaged in some form of galactic cannibalism of their neighbouring galaxies to acquire a fuel supply to power their cores. By using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), we conduct an environmental survey around active/non-active galaxies and map out the spatial distribution of their companions. Our results show that, in gravitationally isolated environments, the local environment (less than 0.5 Mpc) around active galaxies are seen to have a scarcity of neighbouring galaxies relative to the non-active control sample a possible indication of a history of mergers and consumptions.