Obscuration in quasars may arise from steep viewing angles along the dusty torus, or instead may represent a distinct phase of supermassive black hole growth. We test these scenarios by probing the host dark matter halo environments of ∼1.4 million Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer-selected obscured and unobscured quasars at 〈z〉 = 1.4 using angular clustering measurements as well as cross-correlation measurements of quasar positions with the gravitational lensing of the cosmic microwave background. We interpret these signals within a halo occupation distribution framework to conclude that obscured systems reside in more massive effective halos (∼1012.9 h −1 M ⊙) than their unobscured counterparts (∼1012.6 h −1 M ⊙), though we do not detect a difference in the satellite fraction. We find excellent agreement between the clustering and lensing analyses and show that this implies the observed difference is robust to uncertainties in the obscured quasar redshift distribution, highlighting the power of combining angular clustering and weak lensing measurements. This finding appears in tension with models that ascribe obscuration exclusively to orientation of the dusty torus along the line of sight, and instead may be consistent with the notion that some obscured quasars are attenuated by galaxy-scale or circumnuclear material during an evolutionary phase.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||The Astrophysical Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 23 Mar 2023|
- Galaxies and Cosmology