A complete search for redshift z ≳ 6.5 quasars in the VIKING survey

R. Barnett, S. J. Warren, N. J.G. Cross, D. J. Mortlock, X. Fan, F. Wang, P. C. Hewett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present the results of a new, deeper, and complete search for high-redshift 6.5 < z < 9.3 quasars over 977 deg2 of the VISTA Kilo-Degree Infrared Galaxy (VIKING) survey. This exploits a new list-driven data set providing photometry in all bands Z, Y, J, H, Ks, for all sources detected by VIKING in J. We use the Bayesian model comparison (BMC) selection method of Mortlock et al., producing a ranked list of just 21 candidates. The sources ranked 1, 2, 3, and 5 are the four known z > 6.5 quasars in this field. Additional observations of the other 17 candidates, primarily DESI Legacy Survey photometry and ESO FORS2 spectroscopy, confirm that none is a quasar. This is the first complete sample from the VIKING survey, and we provide the computed selection function. We include a detailed comparison of the BMC method against two other selection methods: colour cuts and minimum-χ2 SED fitting. We find that: (i) BMC produces eight times fewer false positives than colour cuts, while also reaching 0.3 mag deeper, (ii) the minimum-χ2 SED-fitting method is extremely efficient but reaches 0.7 mag less deep than the BMC method, and selects only one of the four known quasars. We show that BMC candidates, rejected because their photometric SEDs have high χ2 values, include bright examples of galaxies with very strong [O iii] λλ4959,5007 emission in the Y band, identified in fainter surveys by Matsuoka et al. This is a potential contaminant population in Euclid searches for faint z > 7 quasars, not previously accounted for, and that requires better characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1663-1676
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume501
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Keywords

  • quasars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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