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A principal component analysis of quasar UV spectra at z ~ 3

Abstract : 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. Eigenvectors and projection matrix are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to ( or via
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Contributor : Nicolás Busca <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 11, 2012 - 2:34:42 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 4:32:15 PM

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I. Pâris, P. Petitjean, E. Rollinde, E. Aubourg, N.G. Busca, et al.. A principal component analysis of quasar UV spectra at z ~ 3. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2011, 530, pp.50. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201016233⟩. ⟨in2p3-00706738⟩



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