DES J0454-4448: Discovery of the first luminous z = 6 quasar from the Dark Energy Survey

S. L. Reed, R. G. McMahon, M. Banerji, G. D. Becker, E. Gonzalez-Solares, P. Martini, F. Ostrovski, M. Rauch, T. Abbott, F. B. Abdalla, S. Allam, A. Benoit-Levy, E. Bertin, E. Buckley-Geer, D. Burke, A. Carnero Rosell, L. N. da Costa, C. D'Andrea, D. L. DePoy, S. DesaiH. T. Diehl, P. Doel, C. E. Cunha, J. Estrada, A. E. Evrard, A. Fausti Neto, D. A. Finley, P. Fosalba, J. Frieman, D. Gruen, K. Honscheid, D. James, S. Kent, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, O. Lahav, M. A.G. Maia, M. Makler, J. Marshall, K. Merritt, R. Miquel, J. Mohr, B. Nord, R. Ogando, A. Plazas, K. Romer, A. Roodman, E. Rykoff, M. Sako, E. Sanchez, B. Santiago, M. Schubnell, I. Sevilla, C. Smith, M. Soares-Santos, E. Suchyta, M. E.C. Swanson, G. Tarle, D. Thomas, D. Tucker, A. Walker, R. H. Wechsler

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    © 2015 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. We present the first results of a survey for high-redshift, z ≥ 6, quasars using izY multicolour photometric observations from the Dark Energy Survey (DES). Here we report the discovery and spectroscopic confirmation of the zAB, YAB = 20.2, 20.2 (M1450 = -26.5) quasar DES J0454-4448 with a redshift of z = 6.09±0.02 based on the onset of the Ly α forest and an H I near zone size of 4.1-1.2+1.1 proper Mpc. The quasar was selected as an i-band drop out with i-z = 2.46 and zAB < 21.5 from an area of ~300 deg2. It is the brightest of our 43 candidates and was identified for spectroscopic follow-up solely based on the DES i-z and z-Y colours. The quasar is detected by WISE and has W1AB = 19.68. The discovery of one spectroscopically confirmed quasar with 5.7 < z < 6.5 and zAB = 20.2 is consistent with recent determinations of the luminosity function at z ~ 6. DES when completed will have imaged ~5000 deg2 to YAB = 23.0 (5σ point source) and we expect to discover 50-100 new quasars with z > 6 including 3-10 with z > 7 dramatically increasing the numbers of quasars currently known that are suitable for detailed studies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3952-3961
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • Dark ages, reionization, first stars
    • Galaxies: active
    • Galaxies: formation
    • Galaxies: high-redshift
    • Quasars: individual: DES J0454-4448


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