Quantifying the thermal Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect and excess millimetre emission in quasar environments

Kirsten R. Hall, Nadia L. Zakamska, Graeme E. Addison, Nicholas Battaglia, Devin Crichton, Mark Devlin, Joanna Dunkley, Megan Gralla, J. Colin Hill, Matt Hilton, Johannes Hubmayr, John P. Hughes, Kevin M. Huffenberger, Arthur Kosowsky, Tobias A. Marriage, Loïc Maurin, Kavilan Moodley, Michael D. Niemack, Lyman A. Page, Bruce PartridgeRolando Dünner Planella, Alessandro Schillaci, Cristóbal Sifón, Suzanne T. Staggs, Edward J. Wollack, Zhilei Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this paper, we probe the hot, post-shock gas component of quasar-driven winds through the thermal Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (tSZ) effect. Combining data sets from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, and the Very Large Array, we measure average spectral energy distributions of 109 829 optically selected, radio quiet quasars from 1.4 to 3000 GHz in six redshift bins between 0.3 < z < 3.5. We model the emission components in the radio and far-infrared, plus a spectral distortion from the tSZ effect. At z > 1.91, we measure the tSZ effect at 3.8σ significance with an amplitude corresponding to a total thermal energy of 3.1 × 1060 erg. If this energy is due to virialized gas, then our measurement implies quasar host halo masses are ∼6 × 1012 h−1 M☉. Alternatively, if the host dark matter halo masses are ∼2 × 1012 h−1 M☉ as some measurements suggest, then we measure a >90 per cent excess in the thermal energy over that expected due to virialization. If the measured SZ effect is primarily due to hot bubbles from quasar-driven winds, we find that (5+1.2-1.3) per cent of the quasar bolometric luminosity couples to the intergalactic medium over a fiducial quasar lifetime of 100 Myr. An additional source of tSZ may be correlated structure, and further work is required to separate the contributions. At z ≤ 1.91, we detect emission at 95 and 148 GHz that is in excess of thermal dust and optically thin synchrotron emission. We investigate potential sources of this excess emission, finding that CO line emission and an additional optically thick synchrotron component are the most viable candidates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2315-2335
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • (Galaxies:) intergalactic medium
  • (Galaxies:) quasars: general
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: evolution


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying the thermal Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect and excess millimetre emission in quasar environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this