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      Quasar emission lines as probes of orientation: implications for disc wind geometries and unification

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          Abstract

          The incidence of broad absorption lines (BALs) in quasar samples is often interpreted in the context of a geometric unification model consisting of an accretion disc and an associated outflow. We use the the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) quasar sample to test this model by examining the equivalent widths (EWs) of CIV 1550\AA, Mg II 2800\AA, [OIII] 5007\AA\ and C III] 1909\AA. We find that the emission line EW distributions in BAL and non-BAL quasars are remarkably similar -- a property that is inconsistent with scenarios in which a BAL outflow rises equatorially from a geometrically thin, optically thick accretion disc. We construct simple models to predict the distributions from various geometries; these models confirm the above finding and disfavour equatorial geometries. We show that obscuration, line anisotropy and general relativistic effects on the disc continuum are unlikely to hide an EW inclination dependence. We carefully examine the radio and polarisation properties of BAL quasars. Both suggest that they are most likely viewed (on average) from intermediate inclinations, between type 1 and type 2 AGN. We also find that the low-ionization BAL quasars in our sample are not confined to one region of `Eigenvector I' parameter space. Overall, our work leads to one of the following conclusions, or some combination thereof: (i) the continuum does not emit like a geometrically thin, optically thick disc; (ii) BAL quasars are viewed from similar angles to non-BAL quasars, i.e. low inclinations; (iii) geometric unification does not explain the fraction of BALs in quasar samples.

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          A VLA Survey of Radio-Selected SDSS Broad Absorption Line Quasars

          We have built a sample of 74 radio-selected broad absorption line quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 5 (SDSS DR5) and Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty Centimeters (FIRST), along with a well matched sample of 74 unabsorbed "normal" quasars. The sources have been observed with the NRAO Very Large Array/Expanded Very Large Array at 8.4 GHz (3.5 cm) and 4.9 GHz (6 cm). All sources have additional archival 1.4 GHz (21 cm) data. Here we present the measured radio fluxes, spectral indices, and our initial findings. The percentage of BAL quasars with extended structure (on the order of 10%) in our sample is similar to previous studies at similar resolutions, suggesting that BAL quasars are indeed generally compact, at least at arsecond resolutions. The majority of sources do not appear to be significantly variable at 1.4 GHz, but we find two previously unidentified BAL quasars that may fit into the "polar" BAL category. We also identify a significant favoring of steeper radio spectral index for BAL compared to non-BAL quasars. This difference is apparent for several different measures of the spectral index, and persists even when restricting the samples to only include compact objects. Because radio spectral index is a statistical indicator of viewing angle for large samples, these results suggest that BAL quasars do have a range of orientations but are more often observed farther from the jet axis compared to normal quasars.
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            Radio-Loud and Radio-Quiet BAL Quasars: A Detailed Ultraviolet Comparison

            Studies of radio-loud (RL) broad absorption line (BAL) quasars indicate that popular orientation-based BAL models fail to account for all observations. Are these results extendable to radio-quiet (RQ) BAL quasars? Comparisons of RL and RQ BAL quasars show that many of their properties are quite similar. Here we extend these analyses to the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) spectral properties, using a sample of 73 RL and 473 RQ BAL quasars selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Each RQ quasar is individually matched to a RL quasar in both redshift (over the range \(1.5 < z < 3.5\)) and continuum luminosity. We compare several continuum, emission line, and absorption line properties, as well as physical properties derived from these measurements. Most properties in the samples are statistically identical, though we find slight differences in the velocity structure of the BALs that cause apparent differences in CIV emission line properties. Differences in the velocities may indicate an interaction between the radio jets and the absorbing material. We also find that UV FeII emission is marginally stronger in RL BAL quasars. All of these differences are subtle, so in general we conclude that RL and RQ BAL QSOs are not fundamentally different objects, except in their radio properties. They are therefore likely to be driven by similar physical phenomena, suggesting that results from samples of RL BAL quasars can be extended to their RQ counterparts.
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              Author and article information

              Journal
              2017-01-24
              Article
              1701.07037

              http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

              Custom metadata
              Accepted to MNRAS. 16 pages, 11 figures
              astro-ph.GA

              Galaxy astrophysics

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