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Fundamental differences in the radio properties of red and blue quasars : evolution strongly favoured over orientation.

Klindt, L. and Alexander, D. M. and Rosario, D. J. and Lusso, E. and Fotopoulou, S. (2019) 'Fundamental differences in the radio properties of red and blue quasars : evolution strongly favoured over orientation.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 488 (3). pp. 3109-3128.


A minority of the optically selected quasar population are red at optical wavelengths due to the presence of dust along the line of sight. A key focus of many red quasar studies is to understand their relationship with the overall quasar population: are they blue quasars observed at a (slight) inclination angle or do they represent a transitional phase in the evolution of quasars? Identifying fundamental differences between red and blue quasars is key to discriminate between these two paradigms. To robustly explore this, we have uniformly selected quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with mid-infrared counterparts, carefully controlling for luminosity and redshift effects. We take a novel approach to distinguish between colour-selected quasars in the redshift range of 0.2 < z < 2.4 by constructing redshift-sensitive g* − i* colour cuts. From cross-matching this sample to the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-centimeters (FIRST) survey, we have found a factor ≈ 3 larger fraction of radio-detected red quasars with respect to that of blue quasars. Through a visual inspection of the FIRST images and an assessment of the radio luminosities (rest-frame L 1.4GHz L1.4GHz and L 1.4GHz / L 6μm L1.4GHz/L6μm ⁠), we find that the radio-detection excess for red quasars is primarily due to compact and radio-faint systems (around the radio-quiet – radio-loud threshold). We show that our results rule out orientation as the origin for the differences between red and blue quasars and argue that they provide broad agreement with an evolutionary model.

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Publisher statement:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2019The Royal Astronomical Society. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:04 June 2019
Date deposited:20 August 2019
Date of first online publication:01 July 2019
Date first made open access:20 August 2019

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