QSO winds and galaxy evolution
Stevens, J. A.
There exists a population of broad-line z~2 QSOs which have heavily absorbed X-ray spectra. These objects constitute ~10% of the population at luminosities and redshifts characteristic of the main producers of QSO luminosity in the Universe. Our follow up observations in the submm show that these QSOs are often embedded in ultraluminous starburst galaxies, unlike most unabsorbed QSOs at the same redshifts and luminosities. The radically different star formation properties between the absorbed and unabsorbed QSOs implies that the X-ray absorption is unrelated to the torus invoked in AGN unification schemes. Instead, these results suggest that the objects represent a transitional phase in an evolutionary sequence relating massive black holes and the formation of galaxies. The most puzzling question about these objects has always been the nature of the X-ray absorber. We present our study of the X-ray absorbers based on deep (50–100 ks) XMM-Newton spectroscopy. We show that the absorption is most likely due to a dense ionised wind driven by the QSO. This wind could be the mechanism by which the QSO terminates the star formation in the host galaxy, and ends the supply of accretion material, to produce the present day black hole/spheroid mass ratio.