Eilat Glikman, Stephanie LaMassa, Enrico Piconcelli, Luca Zappacosta, Mark Lacy

Accretion and Obscuration in Merger-Dominated Luminous Red Quasars

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Abstract We present an analysis of the X-ray properties 10 luminous, dust-reddened quasars from the FIRST-2MASS (F2M) survey based on new and archival Chandra observations. These systems are interpreted to be young, transitional objects predicted by merger-driven models of quasar/galaxy co-evolution. The sources have been well-studied from the optical through mid-infrared, have Eddington ratios above 0.1, and possess high-resolution imaging, most of which shows disturbed morphologies indicative of a recent or ongoing merger. When combined with previous X-ray studies of five other F2M red quasars, we find that the sources, especially those hosted by mergers, have moderate to high column densities (NH ≃ 1022.5 − 23.5 cm−2) and Eddington ratios high enough to enable radiation pressure to blow out the obscuring material. We confirm previous findings that red quasars have dust-to-gas ratios that are significantly lower than the value for the Milky Way’s interstellar medium, especially when hosted by a merger. The dust-to-gas ratio for two red quasars that lack evidence for merging morphology is consistent with the Milky Way and they do not meet the radiative feedback conditions for blowout. These findings support the picture of quasar/galaxy co-evolution in which a merger results in feeding of and feedback from an AGN. We compare the F2M red quasars to other obscured and reddened quasar populations in the literature, finding that, although morphological information is lacking, nearly all such samples meet blowout conditions and exhibit outflow signatures suggestive of winds and feedback.

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