ZFOURGE catalogue of AGN candidates: an enhancement of 160-m-derived star formation rates in active galaxies to z=3.2 Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. We investigate active galactic nuclei (AGN) candidates within the FourStar Galaxy Evolution Survey (ZFOURGE) to determine the impact they have on star formation in their host galaxies. We first identify a population of radio, X-ray, and infrared-selected AGN by cross-matching the deep Ks-band imaging of ZFOURGE with overlapping multiwavelength data. From this, we construct a mass-complete (log(M*/M) =9.75), AGN luminosity limited sample of 235 AGN hosts over z = 0.2-3.2. We compare the rest-frame U - V versus V - J (UVJ) colours and specific star formation rates (sSFRs) of the AGN hosts to a mass-matched control sample of inactive (non-AGN) galaxies. UVJ diagnostics reveal AGN tend to be hosted in a lower fraction of quiescent galaxies and a higher fraction of dusty galaxies than the control sample. Using 160 m Herschel PACS data, we find the mean specific star formation rate of AGN hosts to be elevated by 0.34 0.07 dex with respect to the control sample across all redshifts. This offset is primarily driven by infrared-selected AGN, where the mean sSFR is found to be elevated by as much as a factor of ~5. The remaining population, comprised predominantly of X-ray AGN hosts, is found mostly consistent with inactive galaxies, exhibiting only a marginal elevation. We discuss scenarios that may explain these findings and postulate that AGN are less likely to be a dominant mechanism for moderating galaxy growth via quenching than has previously been suggested.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 11.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Cowley, M. J., Spitler, L. R., Tran, K., Rees, G. A., Labbe, I., Allen, R. J., ... van Dokkum, P. G.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Cowley, Michael J||Spitler, Lee R||Tran, Kim-Vy H||Rees, Glen A||Labbe, Ivo||Allen, Rebecca J||Brammer, Gabriel B||Glazebrook, Karl||Hopkins, Andrew M||Juneau, Stephanie||Kacprzak, Glenn G||Mullaney, James R||Nanayakkara, Themiya||Papovich, Casey||Quadri, Ryan F||Straatman, Caroline MS||Tomczak, Adam R||van Dokkum, Pieter G

publication date

  • March 2016