Discovery of extreme [O III] λ5007 Å outflows in high-redshift red quasars

Nadia L. Zakamska, Fred Hamann, Isabelle Pâris, W. N. Brandt, Jenny E. Greene, Michael A. Strauss, Carolin Villforth, Dominika Wylezalek, Rachael M. Alexandroff, Nicholas P. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Black hole feedback is now a standard component of galaxy formation models. These models predict that the impact of black hole activity on its host galaxy likely peaked at z = 2-3, the epoch of strongest star formation activity and black hole accretion activity in the Universe. We used XShooter on the Very Large Telescope to measure rest-frame optical spectra of four z ~ 2.5 extremely red quasars with infrared luminosities ~1047 erg s-1. We present the discovery of very broad (full width at half max = 2600-5000 km s-1), strongly blueshifted (by up to 1500 km s-1) [O III] λ5007 Å emission lines in these objects. In a large sample of type 2 and red quasars, [O III] kinematics are positively correlated with infrared luminosity, and the four objects in our sample are on the extreme end in both [O III] kinematics and infrared luminosity. We estimate that at least 3 per cent of the bolometric luminosity in these objects is being converted into the kinetic power of the observed wind. Photo-ionization estimates suggest that the [O III] emission might be extended on a few kpc scales, which would suggest that the extreme outflow is affecting the entire host galaxy of the quasar. These sources may be the signposts of the most extreme form of quasar feedback at the peak epoch of galaxy formation, and may represent an active 'blow-out' phase of quasar evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3144-3160
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Quasars: emission lines
  • Quasars: general


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