I review our current understanding of the structures and ages of the host galaxies of quasars, and the masses of their central black holes. At low redshift, due largely to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope, there is now compelling evidence that the hosts of quasars with MV <-24 mag are virtually all massive ellipticals, with basic properties indistinguishable from those displayed by their quiescent counterparts. The masses of these spheroids are as expected given the relationship between black hole and spheroid mass now established for nearby galaxies, as is the growing prevalence of significant disk components in the hosts of progressively fainter active nuclei. In fact, from spectroscopic measurements of the velocity of the broad-line region in quasars, it has now proved possible to obtain an independent dynamical estimate of the masses of the black holes that power quasars. I summarize recent results from this work, which can be used to demonstrate that the black hole-spheroid mass ratio in quasars is the same as that found for quiescent galaxies, namely Mbullet = 0.0012 Msph. These results offer the exciting prospect of using observations of quasars and their hosts to extend the study of the black hole-spheroid mass ratio out to very high redshifts (z >2). Moreover, there is now good evidence that certain ultraviolet quasar emission lines can provide robust estimates of black hole masses from the observed optical spectra of quasars out to z >2, and perhaps even at z >4. By combining such information with deep, high-resolution infrared imaging of high-redshift quasar hosts on 8-m class telescopes, there is now a real prospect of clarifying the evolution of the black hole spheroid connection over cosmological time scales.
Coevolution of Black Holes and Galaxies
- Pub Date:
- Invited review, to appear in "Carnegie Observatories Astrophysics Series, Vol. 1 - Coevolution of Black Holes and Galaxies," ed. L. C. Ho (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press). 16 pages with 9 figures