Published in The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 741, Issue 2, November 10, 2011, pages 1-23.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/741/2/106.
We present images of 29 post-starburst quasars (PSQs) from a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Wide Field Channel Snapshot program. These broadlined active galactic nuclei (AGNs) possess the spectral signatures of massive (M burst ~ 1010 M ☉), moderate-aged stellar populations (hundreds of Myr). Thus, their composite nature provides insight into the AGN-starburst connection. We measure quasar-to-host galaxy light contributions via semi-automated two-dimensional light profile fits of point-spread-function-subtracted images. We examine the host morphologies and model the separate bulge and disk components. The HST/ACS-F606W images reveal an equal number of spiral (13/29) and early-type (13/29) hosts, with the remaining three hosts having indeterminate classifications. AGNs hosted by early-type galaxies have on average greater luminosity than those hosted by spiral galaxies. Disturbances such as tidal tails, shells, star-forming knots, and asymmetries are seen as signposts of interaction/merger activity. Disturbances like these were found in 17 of the 29 objects and are evenly distributed among early-type and spiral galaxies. Two of these systems are clearly merging with their companions. Compared to other AGNs of similar luminosity and redshift, these PSQs have a higher fraction of early-type hosts and disturbances. Our most luminous objects with disturbed early-type host galaxies appear to be consistent with merger products. Thus, these luminous galaxies may represent a phase in an evolutionary scenario for merger-driven activity. Our less luminous objects appear to be consistent with Seyfert galaxies not requiring triggering by major mergers. Many of these Seyferts are barred spiral galaxies.
2011 IOP Publishing.