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The luminosity function of quasarsWe propose a new evolutionary model for the optical luminosity function of quasars. Our analytical model is derived from fits to the empirical luminosity function estimated by Hartwick and Schade and Warren, Hewett, and Osmer on the basis of more than 1200 quasars over the range of redshifts 0 approximately less than z approximately less than 4.5. We find that the evolution of quasars over this entire redshift range can be well fitted by a Gaussian distribution, while the shape of the luminosity function can be well fitted by either a double power law or an exponential L(exp 1/4) law. The predicted number counts of quasars, as a function of either apparent magnitude or redshift, are fully consistent with the observed ones. Our model indicates that the evolution of quasars reaches its maximum at z approximately = 2.8 and declines at higher redshifts. An extrapolation of the evolution to z approximately greater than 4.5 implies that quasars may have started their cosmic fireworks at z(sub f) approximately = 5.2-5.5. Forthcoming surveys of quasars at these redshifts will be critical to constrain the epoch of quasar formation. All the results we derived are based on observed quasars and are therefore subject to the bias of obscuration by dust in damped Ly alpha systems. Future surveys of these absorption systems at z approximately greater than 3 will also be important if the formation epoch of quasars is to be known unambiguously.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Pei, Yichuan C. (Johns Hopkins Univ. Baltimore, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
January 10, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Astrophysical Journal, Part 1
Volume: 438
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0004-637X
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits