Multiwavelength observations of radio-quiet quasars with weak emission lines

Richard M. Plotkin, Scott F. Anderson, W. N. Brandt, Aleksandar M. Diamond-Stanic, Xiaohui Fan, Chelsea L. MacLeod, Donald P. Schneider, Ohad Shemmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


We present radio and X-ray observations, as well as optical light curves, for a subset of 26 BL Lac candidates from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) lacking strong radio emission and with z < 2.2. Half of these 26 objects are shown to be stars, galaxies, or absorbed quasars. We conclude that the other 13 objects are active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with abnormally weak emission features; 10 of those 13 are definitively radio quiet, and, for those with available optical light curves, their level of optical flux variability is consistent with radio-quiet quasars. We cannot exclude the possibility that some of these 13 AGNs lie on the extremely radio-faint tail of the BL Lac distribution, but our study generally supports the notion that all BL Lac objects are radio-loud. These radio-quiet AGNs appear to have intrinsically weak or absent broad emission line regions (BELRs), and, based on their X-ray properties, we argue that some are low-redshift analogs to weak line quasars (WLQs). SDSS BL Lac searches are so far the only systematic surveys of the SDSS database capable of recovering such exotic low-redshift WLQs. There are 71 more z < 2.2 radio-quiet BL Lac candidates already identified in the SDSS, but not considered here, and many of those might be best unified with WLQs as well. Future studies combining low- and high-redshift WLQ samples will yield new insight on our understanding of the structure and formation of AGN BELRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-575
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2010


  • BL Lacertae objects: general
  • Quasars: emission lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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