Journal Article

Broad-line region physical conditions along the quasar eigenvector 1 sequence

P. Marziani, J. W. Sulentic, C. A. Negrete, D. Dultzin, S. Zamfir and R. Bachev

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 409, issue 3, pages 1033-1048
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Broad-line region physical conditions along the quasar eigenvector 1 sequence

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We compare broad emission-line profiles and estimate line ratios for all major emission lines between Lyα and Hβ in a sample of six quasars. The sources were chosen with two criteria in mind: the existence of high-quality optical and ultraviolet spectra and the possibility of sampling the spectroscopic diversity in the 4D eigenvector 1 (4DE1) context. In the latter sense, each source occupies a region (bin) in the full width at half-maximum (FWHM)(Hβ) versus Fe iiopt strength plane that is significantly different from the others. High signal-to-noise ratio Hβ emission-line profiles are used as templates for modelling the other lines (Lyα, C ivλ1549, He iiλ1640, Al iiiλ1860, Si iii]λ1892 and Mg iiλ2800). We can adequately model all broad lines assuming the existence of three components distinguished by blueshifted, unshifted and redshifted centroids [indicated as a blue component (BLUE), broad component (BC) and very broad component (VBC), respectively]. BC (electron density ne∼ 1012 cm−3, ionization parameter U∼ 10−2 and column density Nc≳ 1023 cm−2) is present in almost all type-1 quasars and therefore corresponds most closely to the classical broad-line emitting region (the reverberating component). The bulk of Mg iiλ2800 and Fe ii emission also arises in this region. The BLUE emission (log ne∼ 10, log U∼−1 and log Nc < 23) arises in less optically thick gas; it is often thought to arise in an accretion disc wind. The least understood component involves the VBC (high ionization and large column density), which is found in no more than half (but almost all radio-loud) type-1 quasars and luminous Seyfert nuclei. It is perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of quasars with FWHM (Hβ) ≳ 4000 km s−1 that belong to the so-called population B of our 4DE1 space. Population A quasars [FWHM (Hβ) ≲ 4000 km s−1] are dominated by BC emission in Hβ and BLUE component emission in C ivλ1549 and other high ionization lines. 4DE1 appears to be the most useful current context for revealing and unifying spectral diversity in type-1 quasars.

Keywords: line: formation; line: profiles; galaxies: quasars; quasars: general; galaxies: Seyfert; quasars: individual: I Zw 1; quasars: individual: Mrk 478; quasars: individual: Mrk 335; quasars: individual: Fairall 9; quasars: individual: 3C 249.1; quasars: individual: 3C 110

Journal Article.  11602 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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