First discoveries of z ˜ 6 quasars with the Kilo-Degree Survey and VISTA Kilo-Degree Infrared Galaxy survey

B. P. Venemans, G. A. Verdoes Kleijn, J. Mwebaze, E. A. Valentijn, E. Bañados, R. Decarli, J. T. A. de Jong, J. R. Findlay, K. H. Kuijken, F. La Barbera, John Mc Farland, R. G. McMahon, N. Napolitano, G. Sikkema, W. J. Sutherland

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We present the results of our first year of quasar search in the ongoing ESO public Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) and VISTA Kilo-Degree Infrared Galaxy (VIKING) surveys. These surveys are among the deeper wide-field surveys that can be used to uncover large numbers of z ˜ 6 quasars. This allows us to probe a more common population of z ˜ 6 quasars that is fainter than the well-studied quasars from the main Sloan Digital Sky Survey. From this first set of combined survey catalogues covering ˜250 deg2 we selected point sources down to ZAB = 22 that had a very red i - Z (i - Z > 2.2) colour. After follow-up imaging and spectroscopy, we discovered four new quasars in the redshift range 5.8 <z <6.0. The absolute magnitudes at a rest-frame wavelength of 1450 Å are between -26.6 <M1450 <-24.4, confirming that we can find quasars fainter than M*, which at z = 6 has been estimated to be between M* = -25.1 and M* = -27.6. The discovery of four quasars in 250 deg2 of survey data is consistent with predictions based on the z ˜ 6 quasar luminosity function. We discuss various ways to push the candidate selection to fainter magnitudes and we expect to find about 30 new quasars down to an absolute magnitude of M1450 = -24. Studying this homogeneously selected faint quasar population will be important to gain insight into the onset of the co-evolution of the black holes and their stellar hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2259-2266
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1-Nov-2015


  • galaxies: active
  • quasars: general
  • cosmology: observations

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