Journal Article

Blazars in the early Universe

M. Volonteri, F. Haardt, G. Ghisellini and R. Della Ceca

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 1, pages 216-224
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Blazars in the early Universe

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We investigate the relative occurrence of radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars in the first billion years of the Universe, powered by black holes heavier than one billion solar masses. We consider the sample of high-redshift blazars detected in the hard X-ray band in the 3-year all sky survey performed by the Burst Alert Telescope onboard the Swift satellite. All the black holes powering these blazars exceed a billion solar mass, with accretion luminosities close to the Eddington limit. For each blazar pointing at us, there must be hundreds of similar sources (having black holes of similar masses) pointing elsewhere. This puts constraints on the density of billion solar masses black holes at high redshift (z > 4), and on the relative importance of (jetted) radio-loud versus radio-quiet sources. We compare the expected number of high-redshift radio-loud sources with the high-luminosity radio-loud quasars detected in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), finding agreement up to z ∼ 3, but a serious deficit at z > 3 of SDSS radio-loud quasars with respect to the expectations. We suggest that the most likely explanations for this disagreement are (i) the ratio of blazar to misaligned radio sources decreases by an order of magnitude above z = 3, possibly as a result of a decrease of the average bulk Lorentz factor, (ii) the SDSS misses a large fraction of radio-loud sources at high redshifts, (iii) the SDSS misses both radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars at high redshift, possibly because of obscuration or because of collimation of the optical–ultraviolet continuum in systems accreting near Eddington. These explanations imply very different number density of heavy black holes at high redshifts that we discuss in the framework of the current ideas about the relations of dark matter haloes at high redshifts and the black hole they host.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; BL Lacertae objects: general; quasars: general; X-rays: general

Journal Article.  7751 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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