1 Astronomisches Rechen-Institut am Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg Mönchhofstrasse 12-14, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
3 F.R.S.-FNRS, Institut d’Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août 17, B5c, 4000 Liège, Belgium
4 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Observatoire de Sauverny, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
Received: 28 February 2012
Accepted: 25 May 2012
When an image of a strongly lensed quasar is microlensed, the different components of its spectrum are expected to be differentially magnified owing to the different sizes of the corresponding emitting region. Chromatic changes are expected to be observed in the continuum while the emission lines should be deformed as a function of the size, geometry and kinematics of the regions from which they originate. Microlensing of the emission lines has been reported only in a handful of systems so far. In this paper we search for microlensing deformations of the optical spectra of pairs of images in 17 lensed quasars with bolometric luminosities between 1044.7 − 47.4 erg/s and black hole masses 107.6 − 9.8 M⊙. This sample is composed of 13 pairs of previously unpublished spectra and four pairs of spectra from literature. Our analysis is based on a simple spectral decomposition technique which allows us to isolate the microlensed fraction of the flux independently of a detailed modeling of the quasar emission lines. Using this technique, we detect microlensing of the continuum in 85% of the systems. Among them, 80% show microlensing of the broad emission lines. Focusing on the most common emission lines in our spectra (C III] and Mg II) we detect microlensing of either the blue or the red wing, or of both wings with the same amplitude. This observation implies that the broad line region is not in general spherically symmetric. In addition, the frequent detection of microlensing of the blue and red wings independently but not simultaneously with a different amplitude, does not support existing microlensing simulations of a biconical outflow. Our analysis also provides the intrinsic flux ratio between the lensed images and the magnitude of the microlensing affecting the continuum. These two quantities are particularly relevant for the determination of the fraction of matter in clumpy form in galaxies and for the detection of dark matter substructures via the identification of flux ratio anomalies.
Key words: gravitational lensing: micro / gravitational lensing: strong / line: formation / quasars: general / quasars: emission lines
Based on observations made with the ESO-VLT Unit Telescope # 2 Kueyen (Cerro Paranal, Chile; Proposals 074.A-0563, 075.A-0377, 077.A-0155, PI: G. Meylan).
Figure 1 and the new spectra presented in this paper 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/544/A62 and via the German virtual observatory http://dc.g-vo.org/mlqso/q/web/form
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2012