The ultraviolet-to-mid-infrared spectral energy distribution of weak emission line quasars

Ryan A. Lane, Ohad Shemmer, Aleksandar M. Diamond-Stanic, Xiaohui Fan, Scott F. Anderson, W. N. Brandt, Richard M. Plotkin, Gordon T. Richards, Donald P. Schneider, Michael A. Strauss

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We present Spitzer Space Telescope photometry of 18 Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) quasars at 2.7 ≤ z ≤ 5.9 which have weak or undetectable high-ionization emission lines in their rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) spectra (hereafter weak-lined quasars, or WLQs). The Spitzer data are combined with SDSS spectra and ground-based, near-infrared (IR) photometry of these sources to produce a large inventory of spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of WLQs across the rest-frame 0.1-5 μm spectral band. The SEDs of our sources are inconsistent with those of BL Lacertae objects which are dominated by synchrotron emission due to a jetaligned close to our line of sight, but are consistent with the SED of ordinary quasars with similar luminosities and redshifts that exhibit a near-to-mid-IR "bump," characteristic of hot dust emission. This indicates that broad emission lines in WLQs are intrinsically weak, rather than suffering continuum dilution from a jet, and that such sources cannot be selected efficiently from traditional photometric surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number163
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: nuclei
  • infrared: galaxies
  • quasars: emission lines
  • quasars: general

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    Lane, R. A., Shemmer, O., Diamond-Stanic, A. M., Fan, X., Anderson, S. F., Brandt, W. N., Plotkin, R. M., Richards, G. T., Schneider, D. P., & Strauss, M. A. (2011). The ultraviolet-to-mid-infrared spectral energy distribution of weak emission line quasars. Astrophysical Journal, 743(2), [163].