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Journal Article

Understanding the nature of an unusual post-starburst quasar with exceptionally strong Ne V emission


Schaefer,  Adam
Galaxy Formation, Cosmology, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Swiggum, C., Tremonti, C., Perrotta, S., Schaefer, A., Hickox, R. C., Coil, A. L., et al. (2022). Understanding the nature of an unusual post-starburst quasar with exceptionally strong Ne V emission. The Astrophysical Journal, 929(1): 79. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac5c2c.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-52D6-7
We present a z = 0.94 quasar, SDSS J004846.45-004611.9, discovered in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) BOSS survey. A visual analysis of this spectrum reveals highly broadened and blueshifted narrow emission lines, in particular, [Ne V] λ3426 and [O III] λ5007, with outflow velocities of 4000 km s−1, along with unusually large [Ne V] λ3426/[Ne III] λ3869 ratios. The gas shows higher ionization at higher outflow velocities, indicating a connection between the powerful outflow and the unusual strength of the high ionization lines. The spectral energy distribution and the i − W3 color of the source reveal that it is likely a core extremely red quasar (ERQ); a candidate population of young active galactic nuclei (AGN) that are violently blowing out gas and dust from their centers. The dominance of host galaxy light in its spectrum and its fortuitous position in the SDSS S82 region allows us to measure its star formation history and investigate variability for the first time in an ERQ. Our analysis indicates that SDSS J004846.45-004611.9 underwent a short-lived starburst phase 400 Myr ago and was subsequently quenched, possibly indicating a time lag between star formation quenching and the onset of AGN activity. We also find that the strong extinction can be uniquely attributed to the AGN and does not persist in the host galaxy, contradicting a scenario where the source has recently transitioned from being a dusty submillimeter galaxy. In our relatively shallow photometric data, the source does not appear to be variable at 0.24–2.4 μm in the rest frame, most likely due to the dominant contribution of host galaxy starlight at these wavelengths.