A SCUBA-2 survey of FeLoBAL QSOs. Are FeLoBALs in a `transition phase' between ULIRGs and QSOs?

Violino, Giulio and Coppin, Kristen E. K. and Stevens, Jason A. and Farrah, Duncan and Geach, James E. and Alexander, Dave M. and Hickox, Ryan and Smith, Daniel J. B. and Wardlow, Julie L. (2016) A SCUBA-2 survey of FeLoBAL QSOs. Are FeLoBALs in a `transition phase' between ULIRGs and QSOs? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 457 (2). pp. 1371-1384. ISSN 0035-8711

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It is thought that a class of broad absorption line (BAL) QSOs, characterized by Fe absorption features in their UV spectra (called `FeLoBALs'), could mark a transition stage between the end of an obscured starburst event and a youthful QSO beginning to shed its dust cocoon, where Fe has been injected into the interstellar medium by the starburst. To test this hypothesis, we have undertaken deep Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array 2 (SCUBA-2) 850 μm observations of a sample of 17 FeLoBAL QSOs with 0.89 ≤ z ≤ 2.78 and -23.31 ≤ MB ≤ -28.50 to directly detect an excess in the thermal emission of the dust which would probe enhanced star formation activity. We find that FeLoBALs are not luminous sources in the sub-mm, none of them are individually detected at 850 μm, nor as a population through stacking (Fs = 1.14 ± 0.58 mJy). Statistical and survival analyses reveal that FeLoBALs have sub-mm properties consistent with BAL and non-BAL QSOs with matched redshifts and magnitudes. An Spectral Energy Distribution fitting analysis shows that the far-infrared emission is dominated by active galactic nuclei activity, and a starburst component is required only in 6/17 sources of our sample; moreover the integrated total luminosity of 16/17 sources is L ≥ 1012 L⊙, high enough to classify FeLoBALs as infrared luminous. In conclusion, we do not find any evidence in support of FeLoBAL QSOs being a transition population between an ultraluminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) and an unobscured QSO; in particular, FeLoBALs are not characterized by a cold starburst which would support this hypothesis.

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Journal Article
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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07 Nov 2018 11:38
Last Modified:
02 May 2022 02:16