EDP Sciences
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Volume 477, Number 2, January II 2008
Page(s) 413 - 418
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20078262

A&A 477, 413-418 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20078262

The emission-line spectrum of the UV deficient quasar Ton 34: evidence of shock excitation?

L. Binette1, 2 and Y. Krongold2

1  Département de Physique, de Génie Physique et d'Optique, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1K 7P4, Canada
2  Instituto de Astronomía, UNAM, Ap. 70-264, 04510 México, DF, México

(Received 12 July 2007 / Accepted 20 September 2007)

Context.Emission lines in quasars are believed to originate from a photoionized plasma. There are, however, some emission features that appear to be collisionally excited, such as the Fe II multiplet bands. Shortward of Ly$\alpha$, there are also a few permitted lines of species from low to intermediate ionization.
Aims.Ton 34 $(\hbox{$z_q$ }=1.928)$ exhibits the steepest far-UV continuum decline known $(\hbox{$F_\nu$ }\propto
\nu^{-5.3})$ shortward of 1050 Å. This object also emits unusually strong low to intermediate-excitation permitted lines shortward of the Lyman limit.
Methods.Using archive spectra of Ton 34 from HST, IUE, and Palomar, we measured the fluxes of all the lines present in the spectra and compared their relative intensities with those observed in composite quasar spectra.
Results.Our analysis reveals unusual strengths with respect to Ly$\alpha$ of the following low to intermediate-excitation permitted lines: O II + O III (835 Å), N III + O III (686-703 Å), and N III + N IV (765 Å). We compared the observed line spectrum with both photoionization and shock models.
Conclusions.Photoionization cannot reproduce the strengths of these far-UV lines. Shocks with $\hbox{$V_{\rm s}$ }$$\simeq$ 100 km s-1 turn out to be extremely efficient emitters of these lines and are favored as an excitation mechanism.

Key words: line: identification -- line: formation -- atomic processes -- galaxies: quasars: emission lines -- galaxies: quasars: individual: Ton 34

© ESO 2007