Ionised outflows in z ∼ 2.4 quasar host galaxies

S. Carniani, A. Marconi, R. Maiolino, B. Balmaverde, M. Brusa, M. Cano-Díaz, C. Cicone, A. Comastri, G. Cresci, F. Fiore, C. Feruglio, F. La Franca, V. Mainieri, F. Mannucci, T. Nagao, H. Netzer, E. Piconcelli, G. Risaliti, R. Schneider, O. Shemmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Aims. Outflows driven by active galactic nuclei (AGN) are invoked by galaxy evolutionary models to quench star formation and to explain the origin of the relations observed locally between super-massive black holes and their host galaxies. We here aim to detect extended ionised outflows in luminous quasars, where we expect the highest activity both in star formation and in black-hole accretion. Currently, there are only a few studies based on spatially resolved observations of outflows at high redshift, z > 2. Methods. We analysed a sample of six luminous (L > 1047 erg/s) quasars at z ∼ 2.4, observed in H-band using the near-IR integral field spectrometer SINFONI at the VLT. We performed a kinematic analysis of the [OIII] emission line at λ = 5007 Å. Results. We detect fast, spatially extended outflows in five out of six targets. [OIII]λ5007 has a complex gas kinematic, with blue-shifted velocities of a few hundreds of km s-1 and line widths up to 1500 km s-1. Using the spectroastrometric method, we infer a size of the ionised outflows of up to ∼2 kpc. The properties of the ionised outflows, mass outflow rate, momentum rate, and kinetic power, are correlated with the AGN luminosity. The increase in outflow rate with increasing AGN luminosity is consistent with the idea that a luminous AGN pushes away the surrounding gas through fast outflows that are driven by radiation pressure, which depends on the emitted luminosity. Conclusions. We derive mass outflow rates of about 6-700 MO ?yr-1 for our sample, which are lower than those observed in molecular outflows. The physical properties of ionised outflows show dependences on AGN luminosity that are similar to those of molecular outflows, but indicate that the mass of ionised gas is lower than that of molecular outflows. Alternatively, this discrepancy between ionised and molecular outflows could be explained with different acceleration mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA102
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme321913
Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca
Israel Science Foundation284/13


    • Galaxies: active
    • Galaxies: evolution
    • Quasars: emission lines
    • Techniques: imaging spectroscopy


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