EDP Sciences
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Volume 434, Number 1, April IV 2005
Page(s) 133 - 148
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041786

A&A 434, 133-148 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041786

The Parkes quarter-Jansky flat-spectrum sample

III. Space density and evolution of QSOs
J. V. Wall1, C. A. Jackson2, P. A. Shaver3, I. M. Hook1 and K. I. Kellermann4

1  Department of Astrophysics, University of Oxford, Denys Wilkinson Building, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH, UK
    e-mail: jvw@astro.ubc.ca
2  Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, The Australian National University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Canberra, ACT 2611, Australia
3  European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
4  National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2475, USA

(Received 3 August 2004 / Accepted 18 December 2004 )

We analyze the Parkes quarter-Jansky flat-spectrum sample of QSOs in terms of space density, including the redshift distribution, the radio luminosity function, and the evidence for a redshift cutoff. With regard to the luminosity function, we note the strong evolution in space density from the present day to epochs corresponding to redshifts ~1. We draw attention to a selection effect due to spread in spectral shape that may have misled other investigators to consider the apparent similarities in shape of luminosity functions in different redshift shells as evidence for luminosity evolution. To examine the evolution at redshifts beyond 3, we develop a model-independent method based on the $V_{\rm max}$ test using each object to predict expectation densities beyond z=3. With this we show that a diminution in space density at z > 3 is present at a significance level ${>}4\sigma$. We identify a severe bias in such determinations from using flux-density measurements at epochs significantly later than that of the finding survey. The form of the diminution is estimated, and is shown to be very similar to that found for QSOs selected in X-ray and optical wavebands. The diminution is also compared with the current estimates of star-formation evolution, with less conclusive results. In summary we suggest that the reionization epoch is little influenced by powerful flat-spectrum QSOs, and that dust obscuration does not play a major role in our view of the QSO population selected at radio, optical or X-ray wavelengths.

Key words: radio continuum: galaxies -- galaxies: active -- galaxies: evolution -- galaxies: quasars: general -- galaxies: BL Lac objects: general -- cosmology: observations

SIMBAD Objects

© ESO 2005