Volume 530, June 2011
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Published online||06 May 2011|
A principal component analysis of quasar UV spectra at z ~ 3⋆
UPMC Univ Paris06, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, UMR
2 APC, 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet, 75205 Paris Cedex 13, France
3 CEA, Centre de Saclay, Irfu/SPP, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Accepted: 1 April 2011
From a principal component analysis (PCA) of 78 z ~ 3 high-quality quasar spectra in the SDSS-DR7 we derive the principal components that characterize the QSO continuum over the full available wavelength range. The shape of the mean continuum is similar to that measured at low-z (z ~ 1), but the equivalent width of the emission lines is larger at low redshift. We calculate the correlation between fluxes at different wavelengths and find that the emission line fluxes in the red part of the spectrum are correlated with those in the blue part. We construct a projection matrix to predict the continuum in the Lyman-α forest from the red part of the spectrum. We apply this matrix to quasars in the SDSS-DR7 to derive the evolution with redshift of the mean flux in the Lyman-α forest caused by the absorption by the intergalactic neutral hydrogen. A change in the evolution of the mean flux is apparent around z ~ 3 as a steeper decrease of the mean flux at higher redshifts. The same evolution is found when the continuum is estimated from the extrapolation of a power-law continuum fitted in the red part of the quasar spectrum if a correction derived from simple simulations is applied. Our findings are consistent with previous determinations using high spectral resolution data. We provide the PCA eigenvectors over the wavelength range 1020−2000 Å and the distribution of their weights that can be used to simulate QSO mock spectra.
Key words: methods: numerical / intergalactic medium / quasars: absorption lines / quasars: emission lines
Eigenvectors and projection matrix are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (184.108.40.206) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/530/A50
© ESO, 2011
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