A massive black hole in a low-metallicity AGN at z∼5.55 revealed by JWST/NIRSpec IFS

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Ubler, Hannah 

We present JWST/NIRSpec Integral Field Spectrograph rest-frame optical data of the compact z=5.55 galaxy GS_3073. Its prominent broad components in several hydrogen and helium lines (while absent in the forbidden lines), and the detection of a large equivalent width of He II λ4686, EW(He II) ∼20 Angstrom, unambiguously identify it as an active galactic nucleus (AGN). We measure a gas-phase metallicity of Zgas/Z⊙∼0.21+0.08−0.04, lower than what has been inferred for both more luminous AGN at similar redshift and lower redshift AGN. We empirically show that classical emission line ratio diagnostic diagrams cannot be used to distinguish between the primary ionisation source (AGN or star formation) for such low-metallicity systems, whereas different diagnostic diagrams involving He IIλ4686 prove very useful, independent of metallicity. We measure the central black hole mass to be log(MBH/M⊙)∼8.20+0.11−0.16. While this places GS_3073 at the lower end of known high-redshift black hole masses, it still appears to be over-massive compared to its host galaxy properties. We detect an outflow with projected velocity ≳700~km/s and an ionised gas mass outflow rate of about 100 M⊙/yr, suggesting that GS_3073 is able to enrich the intergalactic medium with metals one billion years after the Big Bang.

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Astronomy and Astrophysics: a European journal
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EDP Sciences
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Royal Society (RSRP\R1\211056)
STFC (ST/V000918/1)
Isaac Newton Trust (17.06(c)i)
STFC ERC Royal Society Professorship