On the frequency of star-forming galaxies in the vicinity of powerful AGNs: the case of SMM J04135+10277

J. Fogasy, K. K. Knudsen, C. D. P. Lagos, G. Drouart, V. Gonzalez-Perez

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Context - In the last decade several massive molecular gas reservoirs were found < 100 kpc distance from active galactic nuclei (AGNs), residing in gas-rich companion galaxies. The study of AGN–gas-rich companion systems opens the opportunity to determine whether the stellar mass of massive local galaxies was formed in their host after a merger event or outside of their host galaxy in a close starbursting companion and later incorporated via mergers.

Aims - Our aim is to study the quasar–companion galaxy system of SMMJ04135+10277 (z = 2.84) and investigate the expected frequency of quasar–starburst galaxy pairs at high redshift using a cosmological galaxy formation model.

Methods - We use archive data and new APEX ArTeMiS data to construct and model the spectral energy distribution of SMMJ04135+10277 in order to determine its properties. We also carry out a comprehensive analysis of the cosmological galaxy formation model GALFORM with the aim of characterising how typical the system of SMMJ04135+10277 is and whether quasar–starforming galaxy pairs may constitute an important stage in galaxy evolution. Finally, we compare our results to observations found in the literature at both large and small scales (1 Mpc–100 kpc).

Results - The companion galaxy of SMMJ04135+10277 is a heavily dust-obscured starburst galaxy with a median star formation rate (SFR) of 700MΘyr-1, median dust mass of 5.1 x 109MΘ and median dust luminosity of 9.3 x 1012 LΘ. Our simulations, performed at z = 2.8, suggest that SMMJ04135+10277 is not unique. In fact, at a distance of < 100 kpc, 22% of our simulated quasar samplehave at least one companion galaxy of a stellar mass > 108MΘ, and 0.3% have at least one highly star-forming companion (SFR > 100 MΘ yr-1).

Conclusions - Our results suggest that quasar–gas-rich companion galaxy systems are common phenomena in the early Universe and the high incidence of companions makes the study of such systems crucial to understand the growth and hierarchical build-up of galaxies and black holes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Early online date13 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.CO
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/K00042X/1
  • ST/H008519/1
  • ST/K003267/1
  • quasars: individual: SMMJ04135+10277
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • submillimetre: galaxies


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