Discovery of two spectroscopically peculiar, low-luminosity quasars at z ∼ 4

Eilat Glikman, S. G. Djorgovski, Daniel Stern, Milan Bogosavljević, Ashish Mahabal

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We report the discovery of two low-luminosity quasars at z ∼ 4, both of which show prominent N IV] λ1486 emission. This line is extremely rare in quasar spectra at any redshift; detecting it in two of a sample of 23 objects (i.e., ∼9% of the sample) is intriguing and is likely due to the low-luminosity, high-redshift quasar sample we are studying. This is still a poorly explored regime, where contributions from associated, early starbursts may be significant. One interpretation of this line posits photoionization by very massive young stars. Seeing N IV] λ1486 emission in a high-redshift quasar may thus be understood in the context of coformation and early coevolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes. Alternatively, we may be seeing a phenomenon related to the early evolution of quasar broad emission line regions. The nondetection (and possibly even broad absorption) of N V λ1240 line in the spectrum of one of these quasars may support that interpretation. These two objects may signal a new faint quasar population or an early AGN evolutionary stage at high redshifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L73-L76
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Jul 10 2007


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Quasars: emission lines
  • Quasars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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