The Hosts Galaxies of Radio-Loud and Radio-Quiet Quasars

  • James S. Dunlop


I review our knowledge of the properties of the host galaxies of radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars, both in comparison to each other and in the context of the general galaxy population. It is now clear that the hosts of radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars with M v < −23.5 are virtually all massive elliptical galaxies. The masses of these spheroids are as expected given the relationship between black-hole and spheroid mass found for nearby quiescent galaxies, as is the growing prevalence of disc components in the hosts of progressively fainter AGN. There is also now compelling evidence that quasar hosts are practically indistinguishable from normal ellipticals, both in their basic structural parameters and in the old age of their dominant stellar populations; at low z the nuclear activity is not associated with the formation of a significant fraction of the host galaxy. While the long-held view that quasar radio power might be a simple function of host morphology is now dead and buried, I argue that host-galaxy studies may yet play a crucial role in resolving the long-standing problem of the origin of radio loudness. Specifically there is growing evidence that radio-loud objects are powered by more massive black holes accreting at lower efficiency than their radio-quiet couterparts of comparable optical output. A black-hole mass > 109M appears to be a necessary (although perhaps not sufficient) condition for the production of radio jets of sufficient power to produce an FRII radio source within a massive galaxy halo.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Dunlop
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for AstronomyRoyal ObservatoryEdinburghUK

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