We obtained Keck/OSIRIS near-IR adaptive optics-assisted integral-field spectroscopy to probe the morphology and kinematics of the ionized gas in four velocity-offset active galactic nuclei (AGNs) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These objects possess optical emission lines that are offset in velocity from systemic as measured from stellar absorption features. At a resolution of ∼0.″18, OSIRIS allows us to distinguish which velocity offset emission lines are produced by the motion of an AGN in a dual supermassive black hole system, and which are produced by outflows or other kinematic structures. In three galaxies, J1018+2941, J1055+1520, and J1346+5228, the spectral offset of the emission lines is caused by AGN-driven outflows. In the remaining galaxy, J1117+6140, a counterrotating nuclear disk is observed that contains the peak of Paα emission 0.″2 from the center of the galaxy. The most plausible explanation for the origin of this spatially and kinematically offset peak is that it is a region of enhanced Paα emission located at the intersection zone between the nuclear disk and the bar of the galaxy. In all four objects, the peak of ionized gas emission is not spatially coincident with the center of the galaxy as traced by the peak of the near-IR continuum emission. The peaks of ionized gas emission are spatially offset from the galaxy centers by 0.″1-0.″4 (0.1-0.7 kpc). We find that the velocity offset originates at the location of this peak of emission, and the value of the offset can be directly measured in the velocity maps. The emission-line ratios of these four velocity-offset AGNs can be reproduced only with a mixture of shocks and AGN photoionization. Shocks provide a natural explanation for the origin of the spatially and spectrally offset peaks of ionized gas emission in these galaxies.

Publication Title

Astrophysical Journal