This dissertation studies the properties of outflows driven by active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and their impact on the evolution of galaxies. AGNs are predicted by theoretical models of galaxy formation to provide the necessary feedback to produce realistic galaxies. In theoretical models, AGNs provide feedback by driving outflows that remove gas from the host galaxy, thereby quenching star formation in massive galaxies and producing scaling relations between supermassive black holes and galaxies. Despite being indispensable in theory, critical open questions remain for AGN-driven outflows from an observational perspective.
This dissertation first presents two studies using data from the MOSDEF survey, a large spectroscopic survey of galaxies when the Universe was about 3.5 billions years old (z~2). The first study focuses on the incidence and physical properties of AGN-driven outflows at z~2. We show that AGN-drive outflows are at least as prevalent at z~2 as they are in the local Universe. They are fast and extend to distances comparable to the size of the host galaxy. Using emission line ratio diagnostics, we find our data consistent with the picture of negative AGN feedback, where AGN-driven outflows suppress star formation, and find no evidence of galaxy-wide positive AGN feedback.
The second study focuses on the demographics of galaxies hosting AGN-driven outflows and the relation between outflow properties and the galaxy and AGN population at z~2. We show that AGN-driven outflows are a ubiquitous phenomenon occurring across the galaxy population and in different phases of galaxy evolution, both before and after quenching. By measuring the energetics and correlations of AGN-driven outflows, we find that the outflows are more energetic at z~2 than in the local Universe, where AGNs are more powerful on average. We find that the outflows remove gas at a rate comparable to or faster than gas is being converted into stars. This shows that AGN-driven outflows at z~2 are capable of regulating star formation in the host galaxy.
The third study in this dissertation presents integral field spectroscopy of a nearby ultraluminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) and AGN Mrk 273. The study focuses on the extended ionized gas on scales of ~20 kpc. We detect for the first time highly ionized gas in one of the extended nebula surrounding the galaxy. From this, we show that shocks contribute significantly to the ionization of the gas in the extended nebulae, mixed with AGN photoionization. Our data is compatible with theoretical models in which AGNs drive a multiphase outflow, and slower-moving extended cold gas filaments form out of a more spatially confined but faster warm outflow. Our data suggests that AGNs play an important role in ejecting gas in the ULIRG phase of galaxy evolution.