Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Julie Comerford

Second Advisor

Erica Ellingson

Third Advisor

Francisco Muller-Sanchez

Fourth Advisor

Petger Schaberg


Nature's most powerful objects are well-fed supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies known as active galactic nuclei (AGN). Weighing up to billions of times the mass of our sun, they are the most luminous sources in the Universe. The discovery of a number of black hole-galaxy relations has shown that the growth of supermassive black holes is closely related to the evolution of galaxies. This evidence has opened a new debate in which the fundamental questions concern the interactions between the central black hole and the interstellar medium within the host galaxy and can be addressed by studying two crucial processes: feeding and feedback. Due to the nature of AGN, high spatial resolution observations are needed to study their properties in detail. We have acquired near infrared Keck/OSIRIS adaptive optics-assisted integral field spectroscopy data on 40 nearby AGN as part of a large program aimed at studying the relevant physical processes associated with AGN phenomenon. This program is called the Keck/OSIRIS nearby AGN survey (KONA). We present here the analysis of the spatial distribution and two-dimensional kinematics of the molecular and ionized gas in NGC 4388. This nearly edge-on galaxy harbors an active nucleus and exhibits signs of the feeding and feedback processes. NGC 4388 is located in the heart of the Virgo cluster and thus is subject to possible interactions with the intra-cluster medium and other galaxies. Outflows of ionized gas has been detected to the southwest and northeast of the active nucleus. The molecular gas has been pushed to the western part of the disk as a consequence of the outflow. Analysis of the kinematics of molecular gas provides evidence of a warped disk surrounding the inner black hole. These kinematics hint at a possible past minor merger event. Furthermore, the angle of the southwestern outflow conflicts with the current unified model for active galaxies, as it indicates a misalignment between the AGN and the galactic plane.