3 years ago

Predicting Quasar Continua Near Lyman-$\alpha$ with Principal Component Analysis.

Robert A. Simcoe, Jinyi Yang, Feige Wang, Frederick B. Davies, Chiara Mazzucchelli, Fabian Walter, Emanuele P. Farina, Hans-Walter Rix, Joseph F. Hennawi, Bram P. Venemans, Xiaohui Fan, Roberto Decarli, Eduardo Bañados

Measuring the proximity effect and the damping wing of intergalactic neutral hydrogen in quasar spectra during the epoch of reionization requires an estimate of the intrinsic continuum at rest-frame wavelengths $\lambda_{\rm rest}\sim1200$-$1260$ {\AA}. In contrast to previous works which used composite spectra with matched spectral properties or explored correlations between parameters of broad emission lines, we opted for a non-parametric predictive approach based on principal component analysis (PCA) to predict the intrinsic spectrum from the spectral properties at redder (i.e. unabsorbed) wavelengths. We decomposed a sample of $12764$ spectra of $z\sim2$-$2.5$ quasars from SDSS/BOSS into 10 red-side ($1280$ {\AA} %CONTENT%lt;\lambda_{\rm rest}<2900$ {\AA}) and 6 blue-side ($1180$ {\AA} %CONTENT%lt;\lambda_{\rm rest}<1280$ {\AA}) PCA basis spectra, and constructed a projection matrix to predict the blue-side coefficients from a fit to the red-side spectrum. We found that our method predicts the blue-side continuum with $\sim6$-$12\%$ precision and $\lesssim1\%$ bias by testing on the full training set sample. We then computed predictions for the blue-side continua of the two quasars currently known at $z>7$: ULAS J1120+0641 ($z=7.09$) and ULAS J1342+0928 ($z=7.54$). Both of these quasars are known to exhibit extreme emission line properties, so we individually calibrated the precision of the continuum predictions from similar quasars in the training set. We find that both $z>7$ quasars, and in particular ULAS J1342+0928, show signs of damping wing-like absorption at wavelengths redward of Ly$\alpha$.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.07679

DOI: arXiv:1801.07679v1

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