We consider the consequences of gravitational wave recoil for unified models of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Spatial oscillations of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) around the cores of galaxies following gravitational wave (GW) recoil imply that the SMBHs spend a significant fraction of time off-nucleus, at scales beyond that of the molecular obscuring torus. Assuming reasonable distributions of recoil velocities, we compute the off-core timescale of (intrinsically type-2) quasars. We find that roughly one-half of major mergers result in a SMBH being displaced beyond the torus for a time of 107.5 yr or more, comparable to quasar activity timescales. Since major mergers are most strongly affected by GW recoil, our results imply a deficiency of type 2 quasars in comparison to Seyfert 2 galaxies. Other consequences of the recoil oscillations for the observable properties of AGNs are also discussed.

Publication Date



This is the pre-print of an article published by the American Astronomical Society. The final, published version is available here: https://doi.org/10.1086/595883

© 2008 The American Astronomical Society.

Also archived in arXiv:0811.1037 v1 Nov 7, 2008

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus