First Results from the JWST Early Release Science Program Q3D: Ionization Cone, Clumpy Star Formation, and Shocks in a z = 3 Extremely Red Quasar Host

Andrey Vayner, Nadia L. Zakamska, Yuzo Ishikawa, Swetha Sankar, Dominika Wylezalek, David S.N. Rupke, Sylvain Veilleux, Caroline Bertemes, Jorge K. Barrera-Ballesteros, Hsiao Wen Chen, Nadiia Diachenko, Andy D. Goulding, Jenny E. Greene, Kevin N. Hainline, Fred Hamann, Timothy Heckman, Sean D. Johnson, Hui Xian Grace Lim, Weizhe Liu, Dieter LutzNora Lützgendorf, Vincenzo Mainieri, Ryan McCrory, Grey Murphree, Nicole P.H. Nesvadba, Patrick Ogle, Eckhard Sturm, Lillian Whitesell

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5 Scopus citations


Massive galaxies formed most actively at redshifts z = 1-3 during the period known as “cosmic noon.” Here we present an emission-line study of the extremely red quasar SDSSJ165202.64+172852.3’s host galaxy at z = 2.94, based on observations with the Near Infrared Spectrograph integral field unit on board JWST. We use standard emission-line diagnostic ratios to map the sources of gas ionization across the host and a swarm of companion galaxies. The quasar dominates the photoionization, but we also discover shock-excited regions orthogonal to the ionization cone and the quasar-driven outflow. These shocks could be merger-induced or—more likely, given the presence of a powerful galactic-scale quasar outflow—these are signatures of wide-angle outflows that can reach parts of the galaxy that are not directly illuminated by the quasar. Finally, the kinematically narrow emission associated with the host galaxy presents as a collection of 1 kpc-scale clumps forming stars at a rate of at least 200 M yr−1. The interstellar medium within these clumps shows high electron densities, reaching up to 3000 cm−3, with metallicities ranging from half to a third solar with a positive metallicity gradient, and V-band extinctions up to 3 mag. The star formation conditions are far more extreme in these regions than in local star-forming galaxies but consistent with those of massive galaxies at cosmic noon. The JWST observations simultaneously reveal an archetypal rapidly forming massive galaxy undergoing a merger, a clumpy starburst, an episode of obscured near-Eddington quasar activity, and an extremely powerful quasar outflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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