Directly tracing cool filamentary accretion over >100 kpc into the interstellar medium of a quasar host at z=1

Sean D. Johnson, Joop Schaye, Gregory L. Walth, Jennifer I-Hsiu Li, Gwen C. Rudie, Hsiao-Wen Chen, Mandy C. Chen, Benoît Epinat, Massimo Gaspari, Sebastiano Cantalupo, Wolfram Kollatschny, Zhuoqi, Liu, Sowgat Muzahid

Submitted on 9 September 2022


We report the discovery of giant (50-100 kpc) [O II] emitting nebulae with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) in the field of TXS 0206-048, a luminous quasar at z=1.13. An archival, down-the-barrel UV spectrum of the quasar shows absorption at velocities coincident with those of the extended nebulae, enabling new insights into inflows and outflows around the quasar host. One nebula exhibits a filamentary morphology extending over 120 kpc from the halo toward the quasar and intersecting with another nebula surrounding the quasar host with a radius of 50 kpc. The filamentary nebula has line-of-sight velocities >300 km/s from nearby galaxies but matches that of the nebula surrounding the quasar host where they intersect, consistent with filamentary accretion of cool inter- or circum-galactic medium or cooling hot halo gas. The kinematics of the nebulae surrounding the quasar host are unusual and complex, with one redshifted and one blue-shifted spiral-like structure. The nebular emission velocities at 5-10 kpc from the quasar match those of inflowing absorbing gas observed in a UV spectrum of the quasar. Together, the extended nebulae and associated redshifted absorption represent a compelling case of cool, filamentary gas accretion from halo scales into the extended interstellar medium and toward the nucleus of a massive quasar host galaxy at intermediate redshift. The inflow rate implied by the combination of emission and absorption constraints is orders-of-magnitude below levels required to sustain the quasar's radiative luminosity, indicating highly anisotropic or highly variable accretion.


Comment: 10 pages (text), 3 figures and 2 tables. Submitted to AAS Journals (Letters)

Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies