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Energetic galaxy-wide outflows in high-redshift ultraluminous infrared galaxies hosting AGN activity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher HarrisonORCiD


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We present integral field spectroscopy observations, covering the [Oiii]λλ4959, 5007 emission-line doublet of eight high-redshift (z = 1.4-3.4) ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) that host active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity, including known submillimetre luminous galaxies. The targets have moderate radio luminosities that are typical of high-redshift ULIRGs (L 1.4GHz = 10 24-10 25WHz -1) and therefore are not radio-loud AGNs. We decouple kinematic components due to the galaxy dynamics and mergers from those due to outflows. We find evidence in the four most luminous systems (L[O III]≳1043ergs -1) for the signatures of large-scale energetic outflows: extremely broad [Oiii] emission (full width at half-maximum ≈ 700-1400kms -1) across ≈4-15kpc, with high velocity offsets from the systemic redshifts (up to ≈850kms -1). The four less luminous systems have lower quality data displaying weaker evidence for spatially extended outflows. We estimate that these outflows are potentially depositing energy into their host galaxies at considerable rates (Ė≈1043-10 45ergs -1); however, due to the lack of constraints on the density of the outflowing material and the structure of the outflow, these estimates should be taken as illustrative only. Based on the measured maximum velocities (v max ≈400-1400kms -1) the outflows observed are likely to unbind some fraction of the gas from their host galaxies, but are unlikely to completely remove gas from the galaxy haloes. By using a combination of energetic arguments and a comparison to ULIRGs without clear evidence for AGN activity, we show that the AGN activity could be the dominant power source for driving all of the observed outflows, although star formation may also play a significant role in some of the sources. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harrison CM, Alexander DM, Swinbank AM, Smail I, Alaghband-Zadeh S, Bauer FE, Chapman SC, Del Moro A, Hickox RC, Ivison RJ, Menendez-Delmestre K, Mullaney JR, Nesvadba NPH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Year: 2012

Volume: 426

Issue: 2

Pages: 1073-1096

Print publication date: 21/10/2012

Online publication date: 21/10/2012

ISSN (print): 0035-8711

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2966

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21723.x


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