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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science