Quasars, their host galaxies, and their central black holes

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Title: Quasars, their host galaxies, and their central black holes
Author: Dunlop, James; McLure, Ross; Kukula, Marek; Baum, Stefi; O'Dea, Christopher; Hughes, David
Abstract: We present the final results from our deep HST imaging study of the host galaxies of radio-quiet quasars (RQQs), radio-loud quasars (RLQs) and radio galaxies (RGs). We describe and analyze new WFPC2 R-band observations for 14 objects which, when combined with the first tranche of HST imaging reported in McLure et al (1999), provide a complete and consistent set of deep, red, line-free images for statistically-matched samples of 13 RQQs, 10 RLQs and 10 RGs in the redshift band 0.1<z<0.25. We also report the results of new deep VLA imaging which has yielded a 5 GHz detection of all but one of the 33 AGN in our sample. Careful modelling of our images, aided by a high dynamic-range point-spread function, has allowed us to determine accurately the morphology, luminosity, scale- length and axial ratio of every host galaxy in our sample. Armed with this information we have undertaken a detailed comparison of the properties of the hosts of these 3 types of powerful AGN, both internally, and with the galaxy population in general. We find that spheroidal hosts become more prevalent with increasing nuclear luminosity such that, for nuclear luminosities MV<−23.5, the hosts of both radio-loud and radio-quiet AGN are virtually all massive ellipticals. Moreover, we demonstrate that the basic properties of these hosts are indistinguishable from those of quiescent, evolved, low-redshift ellipticals of comparable mass. This result rules out the possibility that radio-loudness is determined by host-galaxy morphology, and also sets severe constraints on evolutionary schemes which attempt to link low-z ULIRGs with RQQs. Instead, we show that our results are as expected given the relationship between black-hole and spheroid mass established for nearby galaxies, and apply this relation to estimate the mass of the black hole in each object. The results agree remarkably well with completely-independent estimates based on nuclear emission-line widths; all the quasars in our sample have Mbh>5×10^8 M⊙ while the radio-loud objects are confined to Mbh>1^09 M⊙. This apparent mass-threshold difference, which provides a natural explanation for why RQQs outnumber RLQs by a factor of 10, appears to reflect the existence of a minimum and maximum level of black-hole radio output which is a strong function of black-hole mass (∝ M2−2.5bh ). Finally, we use our results to estimate the fraction of massive spheroids/black-holes which produce quasar-level activity. This fraction is ~=0.1% at the present day, rising to > 10% at z~=2 − 3 (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas).
Description: RIT community members may access full-text via RIT Libraries licensed databases: http://library.rit.edu/databases/
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/1792
Publishers URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.2003.06333.x
Date: 2003-04-09

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