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Finding the Brightest Cosmic Beacons in the Southern Hemisphere

Calderone, Giorgio et al., 2019, The Astrophysical Journal, 887, 268 | View on ADS (2019ApJ...887..268C)


The study of absorptions along the lines of sight to bright high-z QSOs is an invaluable cosmological tool that provides a wealth of information on the inter-/circum-galactic medium, dark matter, primordial elements, reionization, fundamental constants, and general relativity. Unfortunately, the number of bright (i ≲ 18) QSOs at z ≳ 2 in the southern hemisphere is much lower than that in the north, due to the lack of wide multiwavelength surveys at decl. δ < 0°, hampering the effectiveness of observations from southern observatories. In this work we present a new method based on Canonical Correlation Analysis to identify such objects, taking advantage of a number of available databases: Skymapper, Gaia DR2, WISE, and 2MASS. Our QSO candidate sample lists 1476 sources with i < 18 over 12,400 square degrees in the southern hemisphere. With a preliminary campaign we observed spectroscopically 69 of them, confirming 54 new bright QSOs at z > 2.5, corresponding to a success rate of our method of ∼80%. Furthermore, we estimate a completeness of ∼90% of our sample at completion of our observation campaign. The new QSOs confirmed by this first and the forthcoming campaigns (QUBRICS10 survey) will be the targets of subsequent studies using higher resolution spectrographs, like ESPRESSO, UVES, and (in the long term) ELT/HIRES.

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