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Physics and Astronomy


Understanding the connection between nuclear activity and galaxy environment remains critical in constraining models of galaxy evolution. By exploiting the extensive cataloged data from the Galaxy and Mass Assembly survey, we identify a representative sample of 205 quasars at 0.1 < z < 0.35 and establish a comparison sample of galaxies, closely matched to the quasar sample in terms of both stellar mass and redshift. On scales <1 Mpc, the galaxy number counts and group membership of quasars appear entirely consistent with those of the matched galaxy sample. Despite this, we find that quasars are ∼1.5 times more likely to be classified as the group center, indicating a potential link between quasar activity and cold gas flows or galaxy interactions associated with rich group environments. On scales of ∼a few Mpc, the clustering strengths of both samples are statistically consistent, and beyond 10 Mpc, we find no evidence that quasars trace large-scale structures any more than the galaxy control sample. Both populations are found to prefer intermediate-density sheets and filaments to either very high-density environments or very low-density environments. This weak dependence of quasar activity on galaxy environment supports a paradigm in which quasars represent a phase in the lifetime of all massive galaxies and in which secular processes and a group-centric location are the dominant triggers of quasars at low redshift.


© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.

Original Publication Information

Clare F. Wethers et al "Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA): The Weak Environmental Dependence of Quasar Activity at 0.1 < z < 0.35." 2022 The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 928(2): 1-16.