Continuum and emission-line properties of broad absorption line quasars

Timothy A. Reichard, Gordon T. Richards, Patrick B. Hall, Donald P. Schneider, Daniel E. Vanden Berk, F. A.N. Xiaohui, Donald G. York, G. R. Knapp, J. Brinkmann

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We investigate the continuum and emission-line properties of 224 broad absorption line quasars (BALQSOs) with 0.9 ≲ z ≲ 4.4 drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Early Data Release, which contains 3814 bona fide quasars. We find that low-ionization BALQSOs (LoBALs) are significantly reddened as compared with normal quasars, in agreement with previous work. High-ionization BALQSOs (HiBALs) are also more reddened than the average non-BALQSO. Assuming SMC-like dust reddening at the quasar redshift, the amount of reddening needed to explain HiBALs is E(B-V) ∼ 0.023 and LoBALs is E(B-V) ∼ 0.077 (compared with the ensemble average of the entire quasar sample). We find that there are differences in the emission-line properties between the average HiBAL, LoBAL, and non-BAL quasar. These differences, along with differences in the absorption-line troughs, may be related to intrinsic quasar properties such as the slope of the intrinsic (unreddened) continuum; more extreme absorption properties are correlated with bluer intrinsic continua. Despite the differences among BALQSO subtypes and non-BALQSOs, BALQSOs appear to be drawn from the same parent population as non-BALQSOs when both are selected by their UV/optical properties. We find that the overall fraction of traditionally defined BALQSOs, after correcting for color-dependent selection effects due to different SEDs of BALQSOs and non-BALQSOs, is 13.4% ± 1. 2% and shows no significant redshift dependence for 1.7 ≤ z ≤ 3.45. After a rough completeness correction for the effects of dust extinction, we find that approximately one in every six quasars is a BALQSO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2594-2607
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6 1776
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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