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Published July 2003 | Published
Journal Article Open

Peculiar Broad Absorption Line Quasars Found in The Digitized Palomar Observatory Sky Survey


With the recent release of large (i.e., ≳100 million objects), well-calibrated photometric surveys, such as Digitized Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (DPOSS), Two Micron All Sky Survey, and Sloan Digital Sky Survey, spectroscopic identification of important targets is no longer a simple issue. In order to enhance the returns from a spectroscopic survey, candidate sources are often preferentially selected to be of interest, such as brown dwarfs or high-redshift quasars. This approach, while useful for targeted projects, risks missing new or unusual species. We have, as a result, taken the alternative path of spectroscopically identifying interesting sources with the sole criterion being that they are in low-density areas of the g-r and r-i color space defined by DPOSS. In this paper, we present three peculiar broad absorption line quasars that were discovered during this spectroscopic survey, demonstrating the efficacy of this approach. PSS J0052+2405 is an iron low-ionization broad absorption line (LoBAL) quasar at a redshift z = 2.4512 ± 0.0001 with very broad absorption from many species. PSS J0141+3334 is a reddened LoBAL quasar at z = 3.005 ± 0.005 with no obvious emission lines. PSS J1537+1227 is an iron LoBAL at a redshift of z = 1.212 ± 0.007 with strong narrow Mg II and Fe II emission. Follow-up high-resolution spectroscopy of these three quasars promises to improve our understanding of BAL quasars. The sensitivity of particular parameter spaces, in this case a two-color space, to the redshift of these three sources is dramatic, raising questions about traditional techniques of defining quasar populations for statistical analysis.

Additional Information

© 2003 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2003 March 25; accepted 2003 April 9. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. R. J. B. acknowledges partial support from NASA ADP (NAG 5-10885), NASA AISRP (NAG 5-12000), and the Fullam Award. P. B. H. acknowledges financial support from Chilean grant FONDECYT/1010981 and a Fundación Andes grant. The authors gratefully acknowledge those of Hawaiian ancestry on whose sacred mountain we are privileged to be guests. Without their generous hospitality, none of the observations presented would have been possible. The processing of DPOSS and the production of the Palomar-Norris Sky Catalog (PNSC) on which this work was based was supported by generous grants from the Norris Foundation and other private donors. Some of the software development was supported by the NASA AISRP program. We also thank the staff of Palomar Observatory for their expert assistance in the course of many observing runs. Finally, we acknowledge the efforts of the POSS-II team and the plate scanning team at STScI.

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