Detection of stellar light from quasar host galaxies at redshifts above 6

Xuheng Ding, Masafusa Onoue, John D. Silverman, Yoshiki Matsuoka, Takuma Izumi, Michael A. Strauss, Knud Jahnke, Camryn L. Phillips, Junyao Li, Marta Volonteri, Zoltan Haiman, Irham Taufik Andika, Kentaro Aoki, Shunsuke Baba, Rebekka Bieri, Sarah E.I. Bosman, Connor Bottrell, Anna Christina Eilers, Seiji Fujimoto, Melanie HabouzitMasatoshi Imanishi, Kohei Inayoshi, Kazushi Iwasawa, Nobunari Kashikawa, Toshihiro Kawaguchi, Kotaro Kohno, Chien Hsiu Lee, Alessandro Lupi, Jianwei Lyu, Tohru Nagao, Roderik Overzier, Jan Torge Schindler, Malte Schramm, Kazuhiro Shimasaku, Yoshiki Toba, Benny Trakhtenbrot, Maxime Trebitsch, Tommaso Treu, Hideki Umehata, Bram P. Venemans, Marianne Vestergaard, Fabian Walter, Feige Wang, Jinyi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The detection of starlight from the host galaxies of quasars during the reionization epoch (z > 6) has been elusive, even with deep Hubble Space Telescope observations 1,2. The current highest redshift quasar host detected 3, at z = 4.5, required the magnifying effect of a foreground lensing galaxy. Low-luminosity quasars 4–6 from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program (HSC-SSP) 7 mitigate the challenge of detecting their underlying, previously undetected host galaxies. Here we report rest-frame optical images and spectroscopy of two HSC-SSP quasars at z > 6 with the JWST. Using near-infrared camera imaging at 3.6 and 1.5 μm and subtracting the light from the unresolved quasars, we find that the host galaxies are massive (stellar masses of 13 × and 3.4 × 1010 M , respectively), compact and disc-like. Near-infrared spectroscopy at medium resolution shows stellar absorption lines in the more massive quasar, confirming the detection of the host. Velocity-broadened gas in the vicinity of these quasars enables measurements of their black hole masses (1.4 × 109 and 2.0 × 108 M , respectively). Their location in the black hole mass–stellar mass plane is consistent with the distribution at low redshift, suggesting that the relation between black holes and their host galaxies was already in place less than a billion years after the Big Bang.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-55
Number of pages5
Issue number7977
StatePublished - Sep 7 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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