On the Radio and Optical Luminosity Evolution of Quasars

J. Singal, V. Petrosian, A. Lawrence, L. Stawarz, Andrew Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We calculate simultaneously the radio and optical luminosity evolutions of quasars, and the distribution in radio loudness R defined as the ratio of radio and optical luminosities, using a flux-limited data set containing 636 quasars with radio and optical fluxes from White et al. We first note that when dealing with multi-variate data it is imperative to first determine the true correlations among the variables, not those introduced by the observational selection effects, before obtaining the individual distributions of the variables. We use the methods developed by Efron and Petrosian which are designed to obtain unbiased correlations, distributions, and evolution with redshift from a data set truncated due to observational biases. It is found that the population of quasars exhibits strong positive correlation between the radio and optical luminosities. With this correlation, whether intrinsic or observationally induced accounted for, we find that there is a strong luminosity evolution with redshift in both wavebands, with significantly higher radio than optical evolution. We conclude that the luminosity evolution obtained by arbitrarily separating the sources into radio-loud (R > 10) and radio-quiet (R <10) populations introduces significant biases that skew the result considerably. We also construct the local radio and optical luminosity functions and the density evolution. Finally, we consider the distribution of the radio-loudness parameter R obtained from careful treatment of the selection effects and luminosity evolutions with that obtained from the raw data without such considerations. We find a significant difference between the two distributions and no clear sign of bi-modality in the true distribution for the range of R values considered. Our results indicate therefore, somewhat surprisingly, that there is no critical switch in the efficiency of the production of disk outflows/jets between very radio-quiet and very radio-loud quasars, but rather a smooth transition. Also, this efficiency seems higher for the high-redshift and more luminous sources in the sample considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • quasars: general
  • galaxies: jets
  • methods: data analysis
  • galaxies: active
  • methods: statistical


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