Mass functions of the active black holes in distant quasars from the sloan digital sky survey data release 3

M. Vestergaard, Xiaohui Fan, C. A. Tremonti, Patrick S. Osmer, Gordon T. Richards

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We present the mass functions of actively accreting supermassive black holes over the redshift range 0.3 ≤ z ≤ 5 for a well-defined, homogeneous sample of 15,180 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 3 (SDSS DR3) within an effective area of 1644 deg2. This sample is the most uniform statistically significant subset available for the DR3 quasar sample. It was used for the DR3 quasar luminosity function, presented by Richards et al., and is the only sample suitable for the determination of the SDSS quasar black hole mass function. The sample extends from i = 15 to i = 19.1 at z ≤ 3 and to i = 20.2 for z ≳. The mass functions display a rise and fall in the space density distribution of active black holes at all epochs. Within the uncertainties the high-mass decline is consistent with a constant slope of β ≈ -3.3 at all epochs. This slope is similar to the bright-end slope of the luminosity function for epochs below z = 4. Our tests suggest that the downturn toward lower mass values is due to incompleteness of the quasar sample with respect to black hole mass. Further details and analysis of these mass functions will be presented in forthcoming papers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
Publication statusPublished - 2008



  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: active-galaxies: luminosity function
  • Mass function
  • Quasars: emission lines
  • Quasars: general
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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