First-2MASS red quasars: Transitional objects emerging from the dust

Eilat Glikman, Tanya Urrutia, Mark Lacy, S. George Djorgovski, Ashish Mahabal, Adam D. Myers, Nicholas P. Ross, Patrick Petitjean, Jian Ge, Donald P. Schneider, Donald G. York

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111 Scopus citations


We present a sample of 120 dust-reddened quasars identified by matching radio sources detected at 1.4GHz in the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty Centimeters survey with the near-infrared Two Micron All Sky Survey catalog and color-selecting red sources. Optical and/or near-infrared spectroscopy provide broad wavelength sampling of their spectral energy distributions that we use to determine their reddening, characterized by E(B - V). We demonstrate that the reddening in these quasars is best described by Small-Magellanic-Cloud-like dust. This sample spans a wide range in redshift and reddening (0.1 ≲ z ≲ 3, 0.1 ≲ E(B - V) ≲ 1.5), which we use to investigate the possible correlation of luminosity with reddening. At every redshift, dust-reddened quasars are intrinsically the most luminous quasars. We interpret this result in the context of merger-driven quasar/galaxy co-evolution where these reddened quasars are revealing an emergent phase during which the heavily obscured quasar is shedding its cocoon of dust prior to becoming a "normal" blue quasar. When correcting for extinction, we find that, depending on how the parent population is defined, these red quasars make up ≲ 15%-20% of the luminous quasar population. We estimate, based on the fraction of objects in this phase, that its duration is 15%-20% as long as the unobscured, blue quasar phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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