Quasar feedback and the origin of radio emission in radio-quiet quasars

Nadia L. Zakamska, Jenny E. Greene

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We analyse Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectra of 568 obscured luminous quasars. The [OIII] λ5007 Å emission line shows blueshifts and blue excess, indicating that some of the narrowline gas is undergoing an organized outflow. The velocity width containing 90 per cent of line power ranges from 370 to 4780 km s-1, suggesting outflow velocities up to ~2000 km s-1, and is strongly correlated with the radio luminosity among the radio-quiet quasars. We propose that radio emission in radio-quiet quasars is due to relativistic particles accelerated in the shocks within the quasar-driven outflows; star formation in quasar hosts is insufficient to explain the observed radio emission. The median radio luminosity of the sample of vLv[1.4 GHz] = 1040 erg s-1 suggests a median kinetic luminosity of the quasar-driven wind of Lwind = 3 × 1044 erg s-1, or about 4 per cent of the estimated median bolometric luminosity Lbol = 8 × 1045 erg s-1. Furthermore, the velocity width of [OIII] is positively correlated with mid-infrared luminosity, which suggests that outflows are ultimately driven by the radiative output of the quasar. Emission lines characteristic of shocks in quasi-neutral medium increase with the velocity of the outflow, which we take as evidence of quasar-driven winds propagating into the interstellar medium of the host galaxy. Quasar feedback appears to operate above the threshold luminosity of Lbol ~ 3 × 1045 erg s-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-804
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Emission lines
  • Evolution
  • Galaxies
  • ISM
  • Quasars
  • Radio continuum


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