AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 23 Quasars, Blazars and Jets
Oral, Monday, January 5, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, Centennial I/II

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[23.01] Quasar Detection via Variability

A. W. Rengstorf (UIUC), QUEST Collaboration

As part of the QUEST (QUasar Equatorial Survey Team) collaboration, I have been studying the intrinsic variability of quasars as a means of quasar detection. I will discuss the findings over the course of three observing seasons (February 1999 - April 2001) at the 1-m Schmidt telescope at the Venezuelan National Observatory. The method of incomplete ensemble photometry was used to compile a list of variable objects from these data. I then describe the subsequent spectroscopic confirmation work carried out at the WIYN 3.5-m telescope in April 2001 and February 2002. Between the two spectroscopic observing campaigns, 30 of a selected subset of variable objects were identified as quasars by means of their distinctive spectral emission lines, 50% of which are newly discovered quasars and 50% of which are independent rediscoveries of previously cataloged quasars.

The number of previously cataloged quasars found in the data is used as a benchmark for statistical analysis and to predict what percentage of variability candidates should be expected to be confirmed as quasars. The percentage of known quasars that vary is seen to increase when comparing data from two observing seasons (38%) with data from all three observing seasons (61%). In addition, the colors of objects in the variability list and those of the previously cataloged quasars are studied as a possible means of increasing the efficiency of future spectroscopic observing campaigns.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.