Dissecting the quasar main sequence: Insight from host galaxy properties

Jiayi Sun, Yue Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diverse properties of broad-line quasars appear to follow a well-defined main sequence along which the optical Fe ii strength increases. It has been suggested that this sequence is mainly driven by the Eddington ratio (L/LEdd) of the black hole (BH) accretion. Shen & Ho demonstrated with quasar clustering analysis that the average BH mass decreases with increasing Fe ii strength when quasar luminosity is fixed, consistent with this suggestion. Here we perform an independent test by measuring the stellar velocity dispersion σ (hence, the BH mass via the M-σ relation) from decomposed host spectra in low-redshift Sloan Digital Sky Survey quasars. We found that at fixed quasar luminosity, σ systematically decreases with increasing Fe ii strength, confirming that the Eddington ratio increases with Fe ii strength. We also found that at fixed luminosity and Fe ii strength, there is little dependence of σ on the broad Hβ FWHM. These new results reinforce the framework that the Eddington ratio and orientation govern most of the diversity seen in broad-line quasar properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL15
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • active - line
  • black hole physics - galaxies
  • general - surveys
  • profiles - quasars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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