A search forH2O masers in 100 active dwarf galaxies

M. J. Rosenthal, I. Zaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the results of the first dedicated survey for 22 GHz H2O maser emission in dwarf galaxies outside of the Local Group, with the aim of discovering disc masers. Studies of disc masers yield accurate and precise measurements of black hole (BH)mass, and such measurements in dwarf galaxies would be key to understanding the low-mass end of BH-galaxy coevolution. We used the Green Bank Telescope to survey 100 nearby (z ≤ 0.055) dwarf galaxies (M* ≤ 109.5 M⊙) with optical emission line ratios indicative of accretion on to amassive black hole.We detected no new masers down to a limit of ~12 mJy (5s).We compared the properties of our sample with those of ~1850 known detections and non-detections in massive galaxies. We find, in agreement with previous studies, that masers are preferentially hosted by Seyferts and highly obscured, [O III]-bright active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Our sample has fewer Seyferts, is less obscured, and is [O III]-faint. Though the overall maser detection rate is ~3 per cent in massive galaxies, the predicted rate for our sample, weighted by its optical properties, is ~0.6-1.7 per cent, corresponding to a probability of making no detections of ~20-50 per cent. We also found a slight increase in the detection rate with increased stellar mass in previously surveyed galaxies. However, further observations are required to discern whether there is an intrinsic difference between the maser fraction in active dwarf galaxies and in their massive counterparts for the same AGN properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1249
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Masers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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