The Physics of the Coronal-line Region for Galaxies in Mapping Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory


The fundamental nature and extent of the coronal-line region (CLR), which may serve as a vital tracer for active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity, remain unresolved. Previous studies suggest that the CLR is produced by AGN-driven outflows and occupies a distinct region between the broad-line region and the narrow-line region, which places it tens to hundreds of parsecs from the galactic center. Here, we investigate 10 coronal line (CL; ionization potential ⪆100 eV) emitting galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV Mapping Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) catalog with emission from one or more CLs detected at ≥5σ above the continuum in at least 10 spaxels - the largest such MaNGA catalog. We find that the CLR is far more extended, reaching out to 1.3-23 kpc from the galactic center. We crossmatch our sample of 10 CL galaxies with the largest existing MaNGA AGN catalog and identify seven in it; two of the remaining three are galaxy mergers and the final one is an AGN candidate. Further, we measure the average CLR electron temperatures as ranging between 12,331 and 22,530 K, slightly above the typical threshold for pure AGN photoionization (∼20,000 K) and indicative of shocks (e.g., merger induced or from supernova remnants) in the CLR. We reason that ionizing photons emitted by the central continuum source (i.e., AGN photoionization) primarily generate the CLs, and that energetic shocks are an additional ionization mechanism that likely produce the most extended CLRs we measure.

Publication Title

Astrophysical Journal