Spectroscopic classification of a complete sample of astrometrically-selected quasar candidates using Gaia DR2

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  • K. E. Heintz
  • S. J. Geier
  • P. Moller
  • J-K Krogager
  • C. Konstantopoulou
  • A. de Burgos
  • P. Jakobsson
  • B. E. H. K. Arvedlund
  • C. R. Christiansen
  • T. B. Hansen
  • P. D. Henriksen
  • K. B. Kuszon
  • I. B. McKenzie
  • K. A. Mosekjaer
  • M. F. K. Paulsen
  • M. N. Sukstorf
  • S. N. Wilson
  • S. K. K. Orgaard

Here we explore the e fficiency and fidelity of a purely astrometric selection of quasars as point sources with zero proper motions in the Gaia data release 2 (DR2). We have built a complete candidate sample including 104 Gaia-DR2 point sources, which are brighter than 20th magnitude in the Gaia G-band within one degree of the north Galactic pole (NGP); all of them have proper motions that are consistent with zero within 2 sigma uncertainty. In addition to pre-existing spectra, we have secured long-slit spectroscopy of all the remaining candidates and find that all 104 stationary point sources in the field can be classified as either quasars (63) or stars (41). One of the new quasars that we discover is particularly interesting as the line-of-sight to it passes through the disc of a foreground (z = 0:022) galaxy, which imprints both Na d absorption and dust extinction on the quasar spectrum. The selection e fficiency of the zero-proper-motion criterion at high Galactic latitudes is thus similar to 60%. Based on this complete quasar sample, we examine the basic properties of the underlying quasar population within the imposed limiting magnitude. We find that the surface density of quasars is 20 deg 2 (at G <20 mag), the redshift distribution peaks at z similar to 1:5, and only eight systems (13+5 3 %) show significant dust reddening. We then explore the selection e fficiency of commonly used optical, near-, and mid-infrared quasar identification techniques and find that they are all complete at the 85 90% level compared to the astrometric selection. Finally, we discuss how the astrometric selection can be improved to an efficiency of similar to 70% by including an additional cut requiring parallaxes of the candidates to be consistent with zero within 2 sigma. The selection e fficiency will further increase with the release of future, more sensitive astrometric measurements from the Gaia mission. This type of selection, which is purely based on the astrometry of the quasar candidates, is unbiased in terms of colours and intrinsic emission mechanisms of the quasars and thus provides the most complete census of the quasar population within the limiting magnitude of Gaia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA17
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Volume644
Number of pages22
ISSN0004-6361
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020

    Research areas

  • astrometry, quasars: general, DIGITAL SKY SURVEY, GRAVITATIONALLY LENSED QUASARS, TARGET SELECTION, HIGH REDSHIFTS, STAR-FORMATION, ABUNDANCES, DUST, AGN, POPULATION, ENRICHMENT

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