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Witnessing the transformation of a quasar host galaxy at z = 1.6

A. Humphrey, N. Roche, J. M. Gomes, P. Papaderos, M. Villar Martín, M. E. Filho, B. H. C. Emonts, I. Aretxaga, L. Binette, B. Ocaña Flaquer, P. Lagos, J. Torrealba

A significant minority of high-redshift radio galaxy (HzRG) candidates show extremely red broad-band colours and remain undetected in emission lines after optical ‘discovery’ spectroscopy. In this paper, we present deep GTC optical imaging and spectroscopy of one such radio galaxy, 5C 7.245, with the aim of better understanding the nature of these enigmatic objects. Our g-band image shows no significant emission coincident with the stellar emission of the host galaxy, but does reveal faint emission offset by ∼3 arcsec (26 kpc) therefrom along a similar position angle to that of the radio jets, reminiscent of the ‘alignment effect’ often seen in the optically luminous HzRGs. This offset g-band source is also detected in several UV emission lines, giving it a redshift of 1.609, with emission line flux ratios inconsistent with photoionization by young stars or an AGN, but consistent with ionization by fast shocks. Based on its unusual gas geometry, we argue that in 5C 7.245 we are witnessing a rare (or rarely observed) phase in the evolution of quasar hosts when stellar mass assembly, accretion on to the back hole, and powerful feedback activity has eradicated its cold gas from the central ∼20 kpc, but is still in the process of cleansing cold gas from its extended halo.

galaxies: active, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: high-redshift, quasars: general

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 447, Issue 4, Page 3322
2015 March

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia