Exploring the Triggering Mechanisms of Quasars by Characterizing the Properties of their Host Galaxies

Friday, 28 September 2018 noon — 1 p.m. MST

AURA Lecture Hall

NOIRLab South Colloquia
PATRICIA BESSIERE (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) and Gemini South Visiting Astronomer)

Although there is a growing acceptance that active galactic nuclei (AGN) play an important role in the evolution of galaxies, the means by which they are triggered is still a matter of hot debate. In terms of the most luminous AGN (quasars), it has been suggested that they are triggered in major, gas-rich mergers. If this is the case, then we would expect to find clear evidence of these mergers in the form of morphological disturbance of the quasar host galaxies. However, tidal features will not be the only consequence of such mergers. It is predicted that they will also be accompanied by a prodigious burst of star formation. I will present both optical imaging and spectroscopic observations, aimed at exploring these prediction, which suggest that this merger induced scenario is indeed plausible.