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Published August 1, 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Properties of Galaxies Hosting X-ray-selected Active Galactic Nuclei in the CL1604 Supercluster at z = 0.9


Recent galaxy evolution models suggest that feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGNs) may be responsible for suppressing star formation in their host galaxies and the subsequent migration of these systems onto the red sequence. To investigate the role of AGNs in driving the evolution of their hosts, we have carried out a study of the environments and optical properties of galaxies harboring X-ray luminous AGNs in the Cl1604 supercluster at z ~ 0.9. Making use of Chandra, HST/ACS and Keck/DEIMOS observations, we examine the integrated colors, morphologies, and spectral properties of nine moderate-luminosity (L_X ~ 10^(43) erg s^(–1)) type 2 Seyferts detected in the Cl1604 complex. We find that the AGNs are predominantly hosted by luminous spheroids and/or bulge-dominated galaxies which have colors that place them in the valley between the blue cloud and red sequence in color-magnitude space, consistent with predictions that AGN hosts should constitute a transition population. Half of the hosts have bluer overall colors as a result of blue resolved cores in otherwise red spheroids and a majority show signs of recent or pending interactions. We also find a substantial number exhibit strong Balmer absorption features indicative of post-starburst galaxies, despite the fact that we detect narrow [O II] emission lines in all of the host spectra. If the [O II] lines are due in part to AGN emission, as we suspect, then this result implies that a significant fraction of these galaxies (44%) have experienced an enhanced level of star formation within the last ~1 Gyr which was rapidly suppressed. Furthermore we observe that the hosts galaxies tend to avoid the densest regions of the supercluster and are instead located in intermediate density environments, such as the infall region of a massive cluster or in poorer systems undergoing assembly. Overall we find that the properties of the nine host galaxies are generally consistent with a scenario in which recent interactions have triggered both increased levels of nuclear activity and an enhancement of centrally concentrated star formation, followed by a rapid truncation of the latter, possibly as a result of feedback from the AGN itself. Our finding that the hosts of moderate-luminosity AGNs within the Cl1604 supercluster are predominantly a transition population suggests that AGN feedback may play an important role in accelerating galaxy evolution in large-scale structures.

Additional Information

© 2009. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2008 August 27; accepted 2009 May 11; published 2009 July 7. This work is supported by the Chandra General Observing Program under award number GO6-7114X. Additional support for this program was provided by NASA through a grant HSTGO- 11003 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. The spectrographic data used herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation.

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Published - Kocevski2009p5227Astrophys_J.pdf


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