Unusual broad absorption line quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Patrick B. Hall, Scott F. Anderson, Michael A. Strauss, Donald G. York, Gordon T. Richards, Xiaohui Fan, G. R. Knapp, Donald P. Schneider, Daniel E. Vanden Berk, T. R. Geballe, Amanda E. Bauer, Robert H. Becker, Marc Davis, Hans Walter Rix, R. C. Nichol, Neta A. Bahcall, J. Brinkmann, Robert Brunner, A. J. Connolly, István CsabaiMamoru Doi, Masataka Fukugita, James E. Gunn, Zoltan Haiman, Michael Harvanek, Timothy M. Heckman, G. S. Hennessy, Naohisa Inada, Željko Ivezić, David Johnston, S. Kleinman, Julian H. Krolik, Jurek Krzesinski, Peter Z. Kunszt, D. Q. Lamb, Daniel C. Long, Robert H. Lupton, Gajus Miknaitis, Jeffrey A. Munn, Vijay K. Narayanan, Eric Neilsen, P. R. Newman, Atsuko Nitta, Sadanori Okamura, Laura Pentericci, Jeffrey R. Pier, David J. Schlegel, S. Snedden, Alexander S. Szalay, Anirudda R. Thakar, Zlatan Tsvetanov, Richard L. White, Wei Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations


The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has confirmed the existence of populations of broad absorption line (BAL) quasars with various unusual properties. We present and discuss 23 such objects and consider the implications of their wide range of properties for models of BAL outflows and quasars in general. We have discovered one BAL quasar with a record number of absorption lines. Two other similarly complex objects with many narrow troughs show broad Mg II absorption extending longward of their systemic host galaxy redshifts. This can be explained as absorption of an extended continuum source by the rotation-dominated base of a disk wind. Five other objects have absorption that removes an unprecedented ∼90% of all flux shortward of Mg II. The absorption in one of them has varied across the ultraviolet with an amplitude and rate of change as great as ever seen. This same object may also show broad Hβ absorption. Numerous reddened BAL quasars have been found, including at least one reddened mini-BAL quasar with very strong Fe II emission. The five reddest objects have continuum reddenings of E(B-V) ≃ 0.5, and in two of them we find strong evidence that the reddening curve is even steeper than that of the SMC. We have found at least one object with absorption from Fe III but not Fe II. This may be due to a high column density of moderately high ionization gas, but the Fe III level populations must also be affected by some sort of resonance. Finally, we have found two luminous, probably reddened high-redshift objects that may be BAL quasars whose troughs partially cover different regions of the continuum source as a function of velocity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-309
Number of pages43
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Atomic processes
  • Line: identification
  • Quasars: absorption lines
  • Quasars: emission lines
  • Quasars: general
  • Radiative transfer


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