The Diversity of Environments around Luminous Quasars at Redshift z 6
Significant clustering around the rarest luminous quasars is a feature predicted by dark matter theory combined with number density matching arguments. However, this expectation is not reflected by observations of quasars residing in a diverse range of environments. Here we assess the tension in the diverse clustering of visible i-band dropout galaxies around luminous z ~ 6 quasars. Our approach uses a simple empirical method to derive the median luminosity-to-halo mass relation, Lc(Mh), for both quasars and galaxies under the assumption of lognormal luminosity scatter, ΣQ and ΣG. We show that higher ΣQ reduces the average halo mass hosting a quasar of a given luminosity, thus introducing at least a partial reversion to the mean in the number count distribution of nearby Lyman-break galaxies. We generate a large sample of mock Hubble Space Telescope fields of view centered across rare z ~ 6 quasars by resampling pencil beams traced through the dark matter component of the BlueTides cosmological simulation. We find that diverse quasar environments are expected for ΣQ > 0.4, consistent with numerous observations and theoretical studies. However, we note that the average number of galaxies around the central quasar is primarily driven by galaxy evolutionary processes in neighboring halos, as embodied by our parameter ΣG, instead of a difference in the large-scale structure around the central quasar host, embodied by ΣQ. We conclude that models with ΣG > 0.3 are consistent with current observational constraints on high-z quasars, and that such a value is comparable to the scatter estimated from hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- August 2021
- Supermassive black holes;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 19 pages, 8 figures