A Candidate of a Least-Massive Black Hole at the First 1.1 Billion Years of the Universe

Masafusa Onoue, Kohei Inayoshi, Xuheng Ding, Wenxiu Li, Zhengrong Li, Juan Molina, Akio K. Inoue, Linhua Jiang, Luis C. Ho

Submitted on 15 September 2022


We report a promising candidate of a low-luminosity active galactic nucleus (AGN) at z=5 that was selected from the first near-infrared images of the JWST CEERS project. This source, named CEERS-AGN-z5-1 at absolute 1450 A magnitude M1450=-19.5+/-0.3, was found via a visual selection of compact sources from a catalog of Lyman break galaxies at z>4, taking advantage of the superb spatial resolution of the JWST/NIRCam images. The 21 photometric data available from CFHT, HST, Spitzer, and JWST suggest that the continuum shape of this source is reminiscent of that for an unobscured AGN, and there is a clear color excess in the filters where the redshifted Hbeta+[O III] and Halpha are covered. The estimated line luminosity is L(Hbeta+[OIII]) =10^43.0 erg s^-1 and L(Halpha) =10^42.9 erg s^-1 with the corresponding rest-frame equivalent width EW(Hbeta+[OIII]) =1100 A and EW(Halpha) =1600 A, respectively. Our SED fitting analysis favors the scenario that this object is either a strong broad-line emitter or even a super-Eddington accreting black hole (BH) emerging in a metal-poor host galaxy. The bolometric luminosity, L_bol=2.5+/-0.3 x 10^44 erg s^-1, is consistent with those of z<0.35 broad-line AGNs with M_BH ~ 10^6 Msun accreting at the Eddington limit. This new AGN population at the first 1.1 billion years of the universe may close the gap between the observed BH mass range at high redshift and that of BH seeds. Spectroscopic confirmation is awaited to secure the redshift and its AGN nature.


Comment: 12 pages, 4 figures, submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters

Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies