Over the past 15 yr, examples of exotic radio-quiet quasars with intrinsically weak or absent broad emission line regions (BELRs) have emerged from large-scale spectroscopic sky surveys. Here, we present spectroscopy of seven such weak emission line quasars (WLQs) at moderate redshifts (z = 1.4-1.7) using the X-shooter spectrograph, which provides simultaneous optical and near-infrared spectroscopy covering the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) through optical. These new observations effectively double the number of WLQs with spectroscopy in the optical rest-frame, and they allow us to compare the strengths of (weak) high-ionization emission lines (e.g., C iv) to low-ionization lines (e.g., Mg ii, Hβ, H) in individual objects. We detect broad Hβ and H emission in all objects, and these lines are generally toward the weaker end of the distribution expected for typical quasars (e.g., Hβ has rest-frame equivalent widths ranging from 15-40). However, these low-ionization lines are not exceptionally weak, as is the case for high-ionization lines in WLQs. The X-shooter spectra also display relatively strong optical Fe ii emission, Hβ FWHM ≲ 4000 km s-1, and significant C iv blueshifts (≈1000-5500 km s-1) relative to the systemic redshift; two spectra also show elevated UV Fe ii emission, and an outflowing component to their (weak) Mg ii emission lines. These properties suggest that WLQs are exotic versions of "wind-dominated" quasars. Their BELRs either have unusual high-ionization components, or their BELRs are in an atypical photoionization state because of an unusually soft continuum.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science