Are luminous quasars triggered in galaxy mergers?
The mechanism by which AGN activity is triggered has long been debated. One, often suggested, method of doing so is major, gas-rich mergers and galaxy interactions. I will present deep Gemini GMOS-S images of a sample of type II quasar host galaxies, demonstrating that 75% show clear signs that they are undergoing some kind of interaction. We compare these results with a control sample of quiescent early-type galaxies and find a similar rate of interaction (68%). However, we also find that the surface brightness of the features of the type II quasars are up to 2 mags brighter than those for the control sample, suggesting a difference in the types of mergers that the two groups are undergoing. We also compare our results with those for a sample of powerful radio galaxies and find very similar values for the surface brightness of the detected features.