GOODS-Herschel: Ultra-deep XMM-Newton observations reveal AGN/star-formation connection

E. Rovilos, A. Comastri, R. Gilli, I. Georgantopoulos, P. Ranalli, C. Vignali, E. Lusso, N. Cappelluti, G. Zamorani, D. Elbaz, M. Dickinson, H. S. Hwang, V. Charmandaris, R. J. Ivison, A. Merloni, E. Daddi, F. J. Carrera, W. N. Brandt, J. R. Mullaney, D. ScottD. M. Alexander, A. Del Moro, G. Morrison, E. J. Murphy, B. Altieri, H. Aussel, H. Dannerbauer, J. Kartaltepe, R. Leiton, G. Magdis, B. Magnelli, P. Popesso, I. Valtchanov

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92 Scopus citations


Models of galaxy evolution assume some connection between the AGN and star formation activity in galaxies. We use the multi-wavelength information of the CDFS to assess this issue. We select the AGNs from the 3 Ms XMM-Newton survey and measure the star-formation rates of their hosts using data that probe rest-frame wavelengths longward of 20 μm, predominantly from deep 100 μm and 160 μm Herschel observations, but also from Spitzer-MIPS-70 μm. Star-formation rates are obtained from spectral energy distribution fits, identifying and subtracting an AGN component. Our sample consists of sources in the z ≈ 0.5-4 redshift range, with star-formation rates SFR ≈ 10 1-10 3 M yr -1 and stellar masses M * ≈ 10 10-10 11.5 M . We divide the star-formation rates by the stellar masses of the hosts to derive specific star-formation rates (sSFR) and find evidence for a positive correlation between the AGN activity (proxied by the X-ray luminosity) and the sSFR for themost active systems with X-ray luminosities exceeding L x ≃ 10 43 erg s -1 and redshifts z ≥ 1. We do not find evidence for such a correlation for lower luminosity systems or those at lower redshifts, consistent with previous studies. We do not find any correlation between the SFR (or the sSFR) and the X-ray absorption derived from high-quality XMM-Newton spectra either, showing that the absorption is likely to be linked to the nuclear region rather than the host, while the star-formation is not nuclear. Comparing the sSFR of the hosts to the characteristic sSFR of star-forming galaxies at the same redshift (the so-called "main sequence") we find that the AGNs reside mostly in main-sequence and starburst hosts, reflecting the AGN-sSFR connection; however the infrared selection might bias this result. Limiting our analysis to the highest X-ray luminosity AGNs (X-ray QSOs with L x > 10 44 erg s -1), we find that the highest-redshift QSOs (with z ≥ 2) reside predominantly in starburst hosts, with an average sSFR more than double that of the "main sequence", and we find a few cases of QSOs at z ≈ 1.5 with specific star-formation rates compatible with the main-sequence, or even in the "quiescent" region. Finally, we test the reliability of the colour-magnitude diagram (plotting the rest-frame optical colours against the stellar mass) in assessing host properties, and find a significant correlation between rest-frame colour (without any correction for AGN contribution or dust extinction) and sSFR excess relative to the "main sequence" at a given redshift. This means that the most "starbursty" objects have the bluest rest-frame colours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA58
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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