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Extremely red quasars from SDSS, BOSS and WISE: classification of optical spectra

Author(s): Ross, Nicholas P; Hamann, Fred; Zakamska, Nadia L; Richards, Gordon T; Villforth, Carolin; et al

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Abstract: Quasars with extremely red infrared-to-optical colours are an interesting population that can test ideas about quasar evolution as well as orientation, obscuration and geometric effects in the so-called AGN unified model. To identify such a population, we match the quasar catalogues of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) to the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) to identify quasars with extremely high infrared-to-optical ratios. We identify 65 objects with r(AB) -W4(Vega) > 14 mag (i. e. F-v (22 mu m)/F-v (r) greater than or similar to 1000). This sample spans a redshift range of 0.28 < z < 4.36 and has a bimodal distribution, with peaks at z similar to 0.8 and z similar to 2.5. It includes three z > 2.6 objects that are detected in the W4 band but not W1 or W2 (i. e. ‘W1W2 dropouts’). The SDSS/BOSS spectra show that the majority of the objects are reddened type 1 quasars, type 2 quasars (both at low and high redshift) or objects with deep low-ionization broad absorption lines (BALs) that suppress the observed r-band flux. In addition, we identify a class of type 1 permitted broad emission-line objects at z similar or equal to 2-3 which are characterized by emission line rest-frame equivalent widths (REWs) of greater than or similar to 150 angstrom, much larger than those of typical quasars. In particular, 55 per cent (45 per cent) of the non-BAL type 1s with measurable CIV in our sample have REW(C IV) > 100 (150)angstrom, compared to only 5.8 per cent (1.3 per cent) for non-BAL quasars in BOSS. These objects often also have unusual line ratios, such as very high NV/Ly alpha ratios. These large REWs might be caused by suppressed continuum emission analogous to type 2 quasars; however, there is no obvious mechanism in standard unified models to suppress the continuum without also obscuring the broad emission lines.
Publication Date: 11-Nov-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 14-Sep-2015
Citation: Ross, Nicholas P, Hamann, Fred, Zakamska, Nadia L, Richards, Gordon T, Villforth, Carolin, Strauss, Michael A, Greene, Jenny E, Alexandroff, Rachael, Brandt, W Niel, Liu, Guilin, Myers, Adam D, Paris, Isabelle, Schneider, Donald P. (2015). Extremely red quasars from SDSS, BOSS and WISE: classification of optical spectra. MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, 453 (3932 - 3952. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv1710
DOI: doi:10.1093/mnras/stv1710
ISSN: 0035-8711
EISSN: 1365-2966
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Pages: 3932 - 3952
Type of Material: Journal Article
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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