The SDSS-III BOSS Quasar survey will attempt to observe z > 2.15 quasars at a density of at least 15 per square degree to yield the first measurement of the baryon acoustic oscillations in the Ly-α forest. To help reaching this goal, we have developed a method to identify quasars based on their variability in the ugriz optical bands. The method has been applied to the selection of quasar targets in the SDSS region known as Stripe 82 (the southern equatorial stripe), where numerous photometric observations are available over a 10-year baseline. This area was observed by BOSS during September and October 2010. Only 8% of the objects selected via variability are not quasars, while 90% of the previously identified high-redshift quasar population is recovered. The method allows for a significant increase in the z > 2.15 quasar density over previous strategies based on optical (ugriz) colors, achieving a density of 24.0 deg-2 on average down to g ∼ 22 over the 220 deg2 area of Stripe 82. We applied this method to simulated data from the Palomar Transient Factory and from Pan-STARRS, and showed that even with data that have sparser time sampling than what is available in Stripe 82, including variability in future quasar selection strategies would lead to increased target selection efficiency in the z > 2.15 redshift range. We also found that broad absorption line quasars are preferentially present in a variability than in a color selection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science