A Unique View of AGN-Driven Molecular Outflows: The Discovery of a Massive Galaxy Counterpart to a $z=2.4$ High-Metallicity Damped Lyman-$α$ Absorber [GA]


We report the discovery of massive $\log(M/M_\odot)=10.74^{+0.18}_{-0.16}$ galaxy at the same redshift as a carbon-monoxide bearing sub-damped Lyman $\alpha$ absorber (sub-DLA) seen in the spectrum of the QSO J1439+1117. The galaxy, J1439B, is located 4.7″ from the QSO sightline, a projected distance of 38 physical kpc at $z=2.4189$, and exhibits broad optical emission lines ($\sigma_{\rm{[O III]}}=303 \pm 12$ km s$^{-1}$) with ratios characteristic of excitation by an active galactic nucleus (AGN). The galaxy has a factor of $\sim$10 lower star formation than is typical of star-forming galaxies of the same mass and redshift. The nearby DLA is highly enriched, suggesting its galactic counterpart must be massive if it follows the $z\sim2$ mass-metallicity relationship. Metallic absorption associated with the DLA is spread over a velocity range $\Delta v > 1000$ km s$^{-1}$, suggesting an energetic origin. We explore the possibility that a different galaxy could be responsible for the rare absorber, and conclude it is unlikely based on imaging, integral field spectroscopy, and high-$z$ massive galaxy pair statistics. We argue that the gas seen in absorption against the QSO was likely ejected from the galaxy J1439B and therefore provides a unique observational probe of AGN feedback in the distant universe.

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G. Rudie, A. Newman and M. Murphy
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 14 pages, 9 figures, to be submitted to ApJ