Imaging Polarization of the Blue-excess Hot Dust-obscured Galaxy WISE J011601.41–050504.0

R. J. Assef, F. E. Bauer, A. W. Blain, M. Brightman, T. Díaz-Santos, P. R. M. Eisenhardt, H. D. Jun, D. Stern, C.-W. Tsai, D. J. Walton, J. W. Wu

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We report on VLT/FORS2 imaging polarimetry observations in the R Special band of WISE J011601.41–050504.0 (W0116–0505), a heavily obscured hyperluminous quasar at z = 3.173 classified as a Hot Dust-obscured Galaxy (Hot DOG) based on its mid-IR colors. Recently, Assef et al. identified W0116–0505 as having excess rest-frame optical/UV emission and concluded that this excess emission is most likely scattered light from the heavily obscured AGN. We find that the broadband rest-frame UV flux is strongly linearly polarized (10.8% ± 1.9%, with a polarization angle of 74° ± 9°), confirming this conclusion. We analyze these observations in the context of a simple model based on scattering either by free electrons or by optically thin dust, assuming a classical dust torus with polar openings. Both can replicate the degree of polarization and the luminosity of the scattered component for a range of geometries and column densities, but we argue that optically thin dust in the ISM is the more likely scenario. We also explore the possibility that the scattering medium corresponds to an outflow recently identified for W0116–0505. This is a feasible option if the outflow component is biconical with most of the scattering occurring at the base of the receding outflow. In this scenario, the quasar would still be obscured even if viewed face-on but might appear as a reddened type 1 quasar once the outflow has expanded. We discuss a possible connection between blue-excess Hot DOGs, extremely red quasars, reddened type 1 quasars, and unreddened quasars that depends on a combination of evolution and viewing geometry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101
Number of pages15
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022


  • 310
  • Galaxies and Cosmology


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