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    Supermassive black holes require a reservoir of cold gas at the centre of their host galaxy in order to accrete and shine as active galactic nuclei (AGN). Major mergers have the ability to drive gas rapidly inwards, but observations trying to link mergers with AGN have found mixed results due to the difficulty of consistently identifying galaxy mergers in surveys. This study applies deep learning to this problem, using convolutional neural networks trained to identify simulated post-merger galaxies from survey-realistic imaging. This provides a fast and repeatable alternative to human visual inspection. Using this tool, we examine a sample of ∼8500 Seyfert 2 galaxies ($L[\mathrm{O\, {\small III}}] \sim 10^{38.5 - 42}$ erg s−1) at z < 0.3 in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and find a merger fraction of $2.19_{-0.17}^{+0.21}$ per cent compared with inactive control galaxies, in which we find a merger fraction of $2.96_{-0.20}^{+0.26}$ per cent, indicating an overall lack of mergers among AGN hosts compared with controls. However, matching the controls to the AGN hosts in stellar mass and star formation rate reveals that AGN hosts in the star-forming blue cloud exhibit a ∼2 × merger enhancement over controls, while those in the quiescent red sequence have significantly lower relative merger fractions, leading to the observed overall deficit due to the differing M*–SFR distributions. We conclude that while mergers are not the dominant trigger of all low-luminosity, obscured AGN activity in the nearby Universe, they are more important to AGN fuelling in galaxies with higher cold gas mass fractions as traced through star formation.

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    We present a comprehensive study of the molecular gas properties of 17 Type 2 quasars at z < 0.2 from the Quasar Feedback Survey (L$_{\rm [O~{\small III}]}$ > 1042.1 $\rm ergs^{-1}$), selected by their high [O iii] luminosities and displaying a large diversity of radio jet properties, but dominated by LIRG-like galaxies. With these data, we are able to investigate the impact of AGN and AGN feedback mechanisms on the global molecular interstellar medium. Using Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment and ALMA ACA observations, we measure the total molecular gas content using the CO(1-0) emission and homogeneously sample the carbon monoxide (CO) spectral line energy distributions, observing CO transitions (Jup  = 1, 2, 3, 6, 7). We observe high r21 ratios (r21  = L’CO(2-1)/L’CO(1-0)) with a median r21  = 1.06, similar to local (U)LIRGs (with r21 ∼ 1) and higher than normal star-forming galaxies (with r21 ∼ 0.65). Despite the high r21 values, for the seven targets with the required data, we find low excitation in CO(6-5) & CO(7-6) (r61 and r62 < 0.6 in all but one target), unlike high-redshift quasars in the literature, which are far more luminous and show higher line ratios. The ionized gas traced by [O iii] exhibits systematically higher velocities than the molecular gas traced by CO. We conclude that any effects of quasar feedback (e.g. via outflows and radio jets) do not have a significant instantaneous impact on the global molecular gas content and excitation and we suggest that it only occurs on more localized scales.

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    We present a study of molecular gas, traced via CO (3–2) from Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array data, of four z < 0.2, ‘radio quiet’, type 2 quasars (Lbol ∼ 1045.3–1046.2 erg s−1; L$_{\mathrm{1.4\, GHz}}\sim 10^{23.7}\!-\!10^{24.3}$ W Hz−1). Targets were selected to have extended radio lobes (≥ 10 kpc), and compact, moderate-power jets (1–10 kpc; Pjet ∼ 1043.2–1043.7 erg s−1). All targets show evidence of central molecular outflows, or injected turbulence, within the gas discs (traced via high-velocity wing components in CO emission-line profiles). The inferred velocities (Vout = 250–440 km s−1) and spatial scales (0.6–1.6 kpc), are consistent with those of other samples of luminous low-redshift active galactic nuclei. In two targets, we observe extended molecular gas structures beyond the central discs, containing 9–53  per cent of the total molecular gas mass. These structures tend to be elongated, extending from the core, and wrap-around (or along) the radio lobes. Their properties are similar to the molecular gas filaments observed around radio lobes of, mostly ‘radio loud’, brightest cluster galaxies. They have the following: projected distances of 5–13 kpc; bulk velocities of 100–340 km s−1; velocity dispersion of 30–130 km s−1; inferred mass outflow rates of 4–20 M⊙ yr−1; and estimated kinetic powers of 1040.3–1041.7 erg s−1. Our observations are consistent with simulations that suggest moderate-power jets can have a direct (but modest) impact on molecular gas on small scales, through direct jet–cloud interactions. Then, on larger scales, jet-cocoons can push gas aside. Both processes could contribute to the long-term regulation of star formation.

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    We present the first eight months of data from our secondary target programme within the ongoing Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) survey. Our programme uses a mid-infrared and optical colour selection to preferentially target dust-reddened quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) that would have otherwise been missed by the nominal DESI QSO selection. So far, we have obtained optical spectra for 3038 candidates, of which ∼70 per cent of the high-quality objects (those with robust redshifts) are visually confirmed to be Type 1 QSOs, consistent with the expected fraction from the main DESI QSO survey. By fitting a dust-reddened blue QSO composite to the QSO spectra, we find they are well-fitted by a normal QSO with up to AV ∼ 4 mag of line-of-sight dust extinction. Utilizing radio data from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) DR2, we identify a striking positive relationship between the amount of line-of-sight dust extinction towards a QSO and the radio detection fraction, that is not driven by radio-loud systems, redshift and/or luminosity effects. This demonstrates an intrinsic connection between dust reddening and the production of radio emission in QSOs, whereby the radio emission is most likely due to low-powered jets or winds/outflows causing shocks in a dusty environment. On the basis of this evidence, we suggest that red QSOs may represent a transitional ‘blow-out’ phase in the evolution of QSOs, where winds and outflows evacuate the dust and gas to reveal an unobscured blue QSO.

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    We have recently found fundamental differences in the radio properties of red quasars when compared to typical blue quasars. In this paper, we use data from the X-shooter spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope, providing spectral coverage from ∼3000–$25\,000\,$ Å, of a sample of 40 red and blue luminous quasars at 1.45 < z < 1.65 to explore the connections between the radio, emission-line, and accretion-disc properties. We fit various dust-extinction curves to the data and find that dust reddening can fully explain the observed colours for the majority of the red quasars in our sample, with moderate extinctions ranging from AV ∼ 0.06–0.7 mag. We confront our spectra with a simple thin accretion-disc model and find this can describe the continua of both the blue and red quasars, once corrected for dust extinction; we also find no significant differences in the accretion properties. We detect ionized outflows in a number of red and blue quasars, but do not find any significant evidence that they are more prevalent in the red quasar population. Overall our findings imply that the radio emission is more closely connected to circumnuclear/ISM opacity rather than accretion disc or outflow differences.

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  6. ABSTRACT In this paper, we provide updated constraints on the bolometric quasar luminosity function (QLF) from z = 0 to z = 7. The constraints are based on an observational compilation that includes observations in the rest-frame IR, B band, UV, soft, and hard X-ray in past decades. Our method follows Hopkins et al. with an updated quasar SED model and bolometric and extinction corrections. The new best-fitting bolometric quasar luminosity function behaves qualitatively different from the old Hopkins model at high redshift. Compared with the old model, the number density normalization decreases towards higher redshift and the bright-end slope is steeper at z ≳ 2. Due to the paucity of measurements at the faint end, the faint end slope at z ≳ 5 is quite uncertain. We present two models, one featuring a progressively steeper faint-end slope at higher redshift and the other featuring a shallow faint-end slope at z ≳ 5. Further multiband observations of the faint-end QLF are needed to distinguish between these models. The evolutionary pattern of the bolometric QLF can be interpreted as an early phase likely dominated by the hierarchical assembly of structures and a late phase likely dominated by the quenching of galaxies. We explore the implications of this model on the ionizing photon production by quasars, the CXB spectrum, the SMBH mass density, and mass functions. The predicted hydrogen photoionization rate contributed by quasars is subdominant during the epoch of reionization and only becomes important at z ≲ 3. The predicted CXB spectrum, cosmic SMBH mass density, and SMBH mass function are generally consistent with existing observations. 
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