Aegis: New evidence linking active galactic nuclei to the quenching of star formation

Kevin Bundy, Antonis Georgakakis, Kirpal Nandra, Richard S. Ellis, Christopher J. Conselice, Elise Laird, Alison Coil, Michael C. Cooper, Sandra M. Faber, Jeff A. Newman, Christy M. Pierce, Joel R. Primack, Renbin Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Using Chandra X-ray observations in the All-Wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey (AEGIS) we identify 241 X-ray-selected active galactic nuclei (AGNs; L2-10 > 1042 ergs s-1) and study the properties of their host galaxies in the range 0.4 < z < 1.4. By making use of infrared photometry from the Palomar Observatory and BRI imaging from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, we estimate AGN host galaxy stellar masses and show that both stellar mass and photometric redshift estimates (where necessary) are robust to the possible contamination from AGNs in our X-ray-selected sample. Accounting for the photometric and X-ray sensitivity limits of the survey, we construct the stellar mass function of X-ray-selected AGN host galaxies and find that their abundance decreases by a factor of ∼2 since z ∼ 1 but remains roughly flat as a function of stellar mass. We compare the abundance of AGN hosts to the rate of star formation quenching observed in the total galaxy population. If the timescale for X-ray-detectable AGN activity is roughly 0.5-1 Gyr, as suggested by black hole demographics and recent simulations, then we deduce that the inferred AGN "trigger" rate matches the star formation quenching rate, suggesting a link between these phenomena. However, given the large range of nuclear accretion rates we infer for the most massive and red hosts, X-ray-selected AGNs may not be directly responsible for quenching star formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-943
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2008


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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