AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 116 The Black Hole-Spheroid Relation and Mergers
Poster, Wednesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 11, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[116.05] A Deep Hubble Space Telescope H-Band Imaging Survey of Massive Gas-Rich Mergers

D.-C. Kim, S. Veilleux (University of Maryland), C.Y. Peng (Space Telescope Science Institute), Luis C. Ho (Carnegie Observatories), L. J. Tacconi, R. Genzel, D. Lutz (Max-Planck-Institut fur extraterrestrische Physik), D. B. Sanders (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii)

As a part of QUEST (Quasar / ULIRG Evolutionary Study) program, we present the results of a deep HST NICMOS H-band imaging survey of 33 luminous, late-type galactic mergers. We find evidences of recent galactic interaction in all of the objects including all 7 IR-excess Palomar-Green (PG) QSOs in the sample. The surface brightness profiles in these objects indicate that the great majority (81%) of the single-nucleus systems show a prominent early-type morphology. Low-surface-brightness exponential disks are detected in at least 4 of these sources. The hosts of 'warm', AGN-like systems are of early type and have less pronounced merger-induced morphological anomalies than the hosts of cool systems with LINER or HII region-like nuclear optical spectral types. The host sizes and luminosities of the 7 PG~QSOs in our sample are statistically indistinguishable from those of the ULIRG hosts. The hosts of ULIRGs and PG~QSOs lie close to the locations of intermediate-size (~ 1 -- 2 L*) spheroids in the photometric projection of the fundamental plane of ellipticals. Our results provide support for a possible merger-driven evolutionary connection between cool ULIRGs, warm ULIRGs, and PG~QSOs.

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