A Molecular Einstein Ring: Imaging a Starburst Disk Surrounding a Quasi-Stellar Object


Images of the CO 2-1 line emission, and the radio continuum emission, from the redshift 4.12 gravitationally lensed quasi-stellar object (QSO) PSS J2322+1944 reveal an Einstein ring with a diameter of 1.5 arcsec. These observations are modeled as a star forming disk surrounding the QSO nucleus with a radius of 2 kpc. The implied massive star formation rate is 900 M_sun/year. At this rate a substantial fraction of the stars in a large elliptical galaxy could form on a dynamical time scale of 10^8 years. The observation of active star formation in the host galaxy of a high-redshift QSO supports the hypothesis of coeval formation of supermassive black holes and stars in spheroidal galaxies.