We report on a Hubble Space Telescope search for rest-frame ultraviolet emission from the host galaxies of five far-infrared-luminous z ≃ 6 quasars and the z = 5.85 hot-dust-free quasar SDSS J0005-0006. We perform 2D surface brightness modeling for each quasar using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo estimator, to simultaneously fit and subtract the quasar point source in order to constrain the underlying host galaxy emission. We measure upper limits for the quasar host galaxies of m J > 22.7 mag and m H > 22.4 mag, corresponding to stellar masses of M ∗ < 2 1011 M o˙. These stellar mass limits are consistent with the local M BH - M ∗ relation. Our flux limits are consistent with those predicted for the UV stellar populations of z ≃ 6 host galaxies, but likely in the presence of significant dust ( mag). We also detect a total of up to nine potential z ≃ 6 quasar companion galaxies surrounding five of the six quasars, separated from the quasars by 1.″4-3.″2, or 8.4-19.4 kpc, which may be interacting with the quasar hosts. These nearby companion galaxies have UV absolute magnitudes of -22.1 to -19.9 mag and UV spectral slopes β of -2.0 to -0.2, consistent with luminous star-forming galaxies at z ≃ 6. These results suggest that the quasars are in dense environments typical of luminous z ≃ 6 galaxies. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that some of these companions are foreground interlopers. Infrared observations with the James Webb Space Telescope will be needed to detect the z ≃ 6 quasar host galaxies and better constrain their stellar mass and dust content.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science