Discovery of Hα absorption in the unusual broad absorption line quasar SDSS J083942.11+380526.3

Kentaro Aoki, Ikuru Iwata, Kouji Ohta, Masataka Ando, Masayuki Akiyama, Naoyuki Tamura

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We discovered Hα absorption in the broad Hα emission line of an unusual broad absorption line quasar, SDSS J083942.11+380526.3, at z = 2.318, through near-infrared spectroscopy with the Cooled Infrared Spectrograph and Camera for OHS (CISCO) on the Subaru telescope. The presence of nonstellar Hα absorption is known only in the Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151 to date; thus, our discovery is the first case for quasars. The Ha absorption line is blueshifted by 520 km s-1 relative to the Hα emission line, and its redshift almost coincides with those of UV low-ionization metal absorption lines. The width of the Hα absorption (∼340 km s-1) is similar to those of the UV low-ionization absorption lines. These facts suggest that the Hα and low-ionization metal absorption lines are produced by the same low-ionization gas, which has a substantial amount of neutral gas. The column density of the neutral hydrogen is estimated to be ∼1018 cm-2 by assuming a gas temperature of 10,000 K from the analysis of the curve of growth. The continuum spectrum is reproduced by a reddened [E(B - V ) ∼ 0.15 mag for the SMC-like reddening law] composite quasar spectrum. Furthermore, the UV spectrum of SDSS J083942.11+380526.3 shows a remarkable similarity to that of NGC 4151 in its low state, suggesting that the physical condition of the absorber in SDSS J083942.11+380526.3 is similar to that of NGC 4151 in the low state. As proposed for NGC 4151, SDSS J083942.11+380526.3 may also be seen through the edge of the obscuring torus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Nov 1


  • Galaxies: active
  • Quasars: absorption lines
  • Quasars: emission lines


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