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Faint Galaxies in the Megaparsec-Scale Environments of Hyperluminous QSOs at Redshifts 2 < z < 3


Trainor, Ryan Francis (2015) Faint Galaxies in the Megaparsec-Scale Environments of Hyperluminous QSOs at Redshifts 2 < z < 3. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z90K26JG.


This thesis presents detailed observational studies of the extended distributions of gas, galaxies, and dark matter around hyperluminous quasars (HLQSOs) at high redshift. Taken together, these works aim to coherently describe the relationships between these massive, accreting black holes and their environments: the nature of the regions that give rise to such massive black holes, the effect of HLQSO radiation on their surrounding galaxies and gas, and the ability of both galaxies and black holes to shed new light on the formation and evolution of the other.

Chapter 2 focuses on the continuum-color-selected galaxies drawn from the Keck Baryonic Structure Survey (KBSS). The KBSS is a uniquely deep spectroscopic survey of star-forming galaxies in the same volumes of space as 15 HLQSOs at 2.5 < z < 2.9. The three-dimensional distribution of these galaxies among themselves and the nearby HLQSOs is used to infer the extent to which these black holes are associated with overdense peaks in the dark matter and galaxy distribution as quantified by clustering statistics. In conjunction with recent dark-matter simulations, these data provide the first estimates of the host dark-matter halo masses for HLQSOs, providing new insight into the formation and evolution of the most massive black holes at high redshift.

Chapter 3 describes the first results from a new survey (KBSS-Lyα) conducted for this thesis. The KBSS-Lyα survey uses narrowband imaging to identify Lyα-emitters (LAEs) in the ~Mpc regions around eight of the KBSS HLQSOs. Many of these LAEs show the effect of reprocessed HLQSO radiation in their emission through the process known as Lyα fluorescence. In this chapter, these fluorescent LAEs are used to generate a coarse map of the average HLQSO ionizing emission on Mpc scales, thereby setting the first direct constraints of the lifetime and angular distribution of activity for a population of these uniquely luminous black holes.

Chapter 4 contains a more detailed description of the KBSS-Lyα survey itself and the detailed properties of the star-forming and fluorescent objects selected therein. Using imaging and spectroscopic data covering rest-frame UV and optical wavelengths, including spectra from the new near-infrared spectrometer MOSFIRE, we characterize this population of nascent galaxies in terms of their kinematics, enrichment, gas properties, and luminosity distribution while comparing and contrasting them with previously-studied populations of continuum-selected galaxies and LAEs far from the effects of HLQSO emission.

At the conclusion of this thesis, I briefly present future directions for the continuation of this research. In Appendix A, I provide background information on the instrumentation used in this thesis, including my own contributions to MOSFIRE.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:cosmology; galaxy formation; black holes; quasars; qsos
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Steidel, Charles C.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A. (chair)
  • Steidel, Charles C.
  • Martin, D. Christopher
  • Hopkins, Philip F.
  • Kollmeier, Juna A.
Defense Date:15 August 2014
Non-Caltech Author Email:ryan.f.trainor (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF AST-0606912
Dennis and Carol Troesh FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08182014-123907723
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8636
Deposited By: Ryan Trainor
Deposited On:20 Sep 2016 17:09
Last Modified:30 May 2023 22:26

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