Hubble Space Telescope Observations of the CfA Seyfert 2s: Near-infrared Surface Photometry and Nuclear Bars

Martini, P., Pogge, R.W., Ravindranath, R., and An, J.H. 2001, ApJ, 562, 139

We present near-infrared J and H surface photometry of 24 of the nearby Seyfert 1.8, 1.9 and 2 galaxies from the CfA Seyfert sample. The excellent angular resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope probes spatial scales as small as tens of parsecs in most of these AGN and is sensitive to the presence of nuclear bars and other potential signatures of the AGN fueling process that channels host galaxy gas and dust to the nuclear region. We have used elliptical isophote techniques to search for nuclear bars in all of these galaxies and have employed a two-dimensional fitting technique to model the nuclear point source and surface brightness distribution of a bright subsample of these galaxies in an attempt to alleviate the impact of the nuclear point source on our sensitivity to nuclear bars. We find stellar nuclear bar candidates in four of these galaxies: Mrk 471, Mrk 270, Mrk 573, and NGC 5929, nearly 20% of the total sample. The percentage rises to ~30% when systems with disturbed morphologies or high inclinations are excluded. The nuclear bars in Mrk~573 and Mrk~270 exhibit some evidence for dust lanes along their leading edges, analogous to the structures seen in host galaxy bars, while the dust lanes in Mrk 471 and NGC 5929 exhibit a more complex morphology. The fact that most of these AGN do not appear to contain stellar nuclear bars suggests that they are not the fueling mechanism for most low-luminosity AGN.

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