WFPC2 imaging of quasar environments: A comparison of large bright quasar survey and Hubble Space Telescope archive quasars 1

Rose A. Finn, Chris D. Impey, Eric J. Hooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) data on the large-scale environments of 16 0.39 < z < 0.51 quasars from the Large Bright Quasar Survey (LBQS). The LBQS quasars are representative of the radio-quiet population, and this is one of the first looks at their large-scale environments. We compare the LBQS environments with the environments of 27 0.15 < z < 0.55 quasars selected from the HST archive. The majority of the Archive quasars are from the PG and PKS surveys, and these quasars are more luminous on average than the LBQS. By comparing the LBQS and Archive environments, we investigate whether previous quasar environment studies have been biased as a result of studying unusually radio or optically luminous quasars. We compare observed galaxy number counts with expected counts predicted from the CNOC2 field galaxy luminosity function in order to look for statistical excesses of galaxies around the quasars. We detect a significant excess around the Archive quasars but find no such excess around the LBQS quasars. We calculate the amplitude of the spatial correlation function and find that the LBQS environments are consistent with that of the typical galaxy while the Archive environments are slightly less rich than Abell O clusters. We find no difference between the environments of radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars in either sample. However, comparison with previously published work shows that the LBQS radio-loud quasars are in sparse environments when compared with other radio-loud quasars, and the Archive radio-quiet quasars are in dense environments compared to other radio-quiet quasars. The richer environments of the Archive radio-quiet quasars cannot be explained by their higher optical luminosities. We find a positive correlation (95%) between radio luminosity and environment for the radio-loud quasars. This may explain why the LBQS radio-loud quasars, which are less radio luminous, are in sparser environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-593
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Aug 20 2001


  • Galaxies: Clusters: General
  • Galaxies: Interactions
  • Quasars: General

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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