Undermassive Host Galaxies of Five z ∼ 6 Luminous Quasars Detected with JWST

Meredith A. Stone, Jianwei Lyu, George H. Rieke, Stacey Alberts, Kevin N. Hainline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We measure host galaxy stellar masses for a sample of five luminous quasars at z ∼ 5-7. Using JWST/NIRCam medium-band images of nearby point-spread function reference stars, we carefully subtract the contribution from the quasar light to place upper and lower limits on the flux of each host galaxy. We find that the members of our sample of quasar host galaxies have mass upper limits of 109.7-1010.8 M , significantly less than expected from their supermassive black hole (SMBH) masses and the local M BH-M * relation. We additionally obtain JWST/NIRSpec integral field unit spectra of three of our quasars to calculate black hole masses, which we find are consistent with those in the literature, and to search for the presence of bright but compact galaxies via a Balmer break, for which we do not find evidence. We discuss the potential effects of dust extinction on our measured fluxes and the impact of selection effects on high-redshift quasar samples. We conclude that the masses of the SMBHs relative to the host galaxy stellar masses have a much larger scatter than locally, large enough that these selection effects cannot be responsible. This result is reinforced by other studies. Finally, we explore the potential implications of these results on the picture of SMBH-galaxy coeval growth in the early Universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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