Unification of luminous type 1 quasars through Civ emission

Gordon T. Richards, Nicholas E. Kruczek, S. C. Gallagher, Patrick B. Hall, Paul C. Hewett, Karenm Leighly, Rajesh P. Deo, Rachael M. Kratzer, Yue Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a sample of 30,000 quasars from the 7th Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we explore the range of properties exhibited by high-ionization, broad emission lines, such as C IV λ1549. Specifically, we investigate the anti-correlation between continuum luminosity and emission-line equivalent width (the Baldwin Effect (BEff)) and the "blueshifting" of the high-ionization emission lines with respect to low-ionization emission lines. Employing improved redshift determinations from Hewett & Wild, the blueshift of the C IV emission line is found to be nearly ubiquitous, with a mean shift of 810 km s-1 for radio-quiet (RQ) quasars and 360 km s-1 for radio-loud (RL) quasars. The BEff is present in both RQ and RL samples. We consider these phenomena within the context of an accretion disk-wind model that is modulated by the nonlinear correlation between ultraviolet and X-ray continuum luminosity. Composite spectra are constructed as a function of C IV emission-line properties in an attempt to reveal empirical relationships between different line species and the continuum. Within a two-component disk+wind model of the broad emission-line region (BELR), where the wind filters the continuum seen by the disk component, we find that RL quasars are consistent with being dominated by the disk component, while broad absorption line quasars are consistent with being dominated by the wind component. Some RQ objects have emission-line features similar to RL quasars; they may simply have insufficient black hole (BH) spin to form radio jets. Our results suggest that there could be significant systematic errors in the determination of Lbol and BH mass that make it difficult to place these findings in a more physical context. However, it is possible to classify quasars in a paradigm where the diversity of BELR parameters is due to differences in an accretion disk wind between quasars (and over time); these differences are underlain primarily by the spectral energy distribution, which ultimately must be tied to BH mass and accretion rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • line: profiles
  • quasars: absorption lines
  • quasars: emission lines
  • quasars: general
  • radio continuum: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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