“Zombie” or active? An alternative explanation to the properties of star-forming galaxies at high redshift
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Via Frascati 33, 00040 Monte Porzio Catone, RM, Italy
2 Space Science Data Center, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Via del Politecnico snc, 00133 Roma, Italy
3 ASTRON – Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4, 7991 Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
4 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’, P.le A. Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy
5 INFN, Sezione di Roma I, P.le A. Moro 2, 00185 Roma, Italy
6 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”, Via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133 Roma, Italy
7 Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
8 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Code 662, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Accepted: 18 June 2018
Context. Star-forming galaxies at high redshift show anomalous values of infrared excess, which can be described only by extremizing the existing relations between the shape of their ultraviolet continuum emission and their infrared-to-ultraviolet luminosity ratio, or by constructing ad hoc models of star formation and dust distribution.
Aims. We present an alternative explanation, based on unveiled AGN activity, of the existence of such galaxies. The scenario of a weak AGN lends itself naturally to explain the observed spectral properties of these high-z objects in terms of a continuum slope distribution and not altered infrared excesses.
Methods. To this end, we directly compare the infrared-to-ultraviolet properties of high-redshift galaxies to those of known categories of AGN (quasars and Seyferts). We also infer the characteristics of their possible X-ray emission.
Results. We find a strong similarity between the spectral shapes and luminosity ratios of AGN with the corresponding properties of such galaxies. In addition, we derive expected X-ray fluxes that are compatible with the energetics from AGN activity.
Conclusions. We conclude that a moderate AGN contribution to the UV emission of such high-z objects is a valid alternative to explain their spectral properties. Even the presence of an active nucleus in each source would not violate the expected quasar statistics. Furthermore, we suggest that the observed similarities between anomalous star-forming galaxies and quasars may provide a benchmark for future theoretical and observational studies on the galaxy population in the early Universe.
Key words: galaxies: ISM / galaxies: photometry / infrared: galaxies / ultraviolet: galaxies / galaxies: active / quasars: general
© ESO 2018