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Large-scale galactic winds (superwinds) are commonly found flowing out of the nuclear region of ultraluminous infrared and powerful starburst galaxies. Stellar winds and supernovae from the nuclear starburst are thought to provide the energy to drive these superwinds. The outflowing gas escapes along the rotation axis, sweeping up and shock-heating clouds in the halo, which produces optical line emission, X-rays and radio synchrotron emission. These features can most easily be studied in edge-on systems, so that the wind emission is not confused by that from the disk.
Diffuse radio emission has been found (Baum et al. 1993, ApJ, 419, 553) to extend out to kpc-scales in a number of edge-on Seyfert galaxies. We have therefore launched a systematic search for superwind outflows in Seyferts. We present here narrow-band optical images and optical spectra for a sample of edge-on Seyferts. These data have been used to estimate the frequency of occurence of superwinds. Approximately half of the sample objects show evidence for extended emission-line regions which are preferentially oriented perpendicular to the galaxy disk. It is possible that these emission-line regions may be energized by a superwind outflow from a circumnuclear starburst, although there may also be a contribution from the AGN itself. A goal of this work is to find a diagnostic that can be used to distinguish between large-scale outflows that are driven by starbursts and those that are driven by an AGN. The presence of starburst-driven superwinds in Seyferts, if established, would have important implications for the connection between starburst galaxies and AGN.
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