ABSTRACT: We present the discovery of three z > 5 quasars in the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey spectroscopic observations of the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey (NDWFS) Bootes Field. These quasars were selected as part of a larger Spitzer mid-infrared quasar sample, with no selection based on optical colors. The highest redshift object, NDWFS J142516.3+325409, at z = 5.85, is the lowest luminosity z > 5.8 quasar currently known. We compare mid-infrared techniques for identifying z > 5 quasars to more traditional optical techniques and show that mid-infrared colors allow for the selection of high-redshift quasars even at redshifts at which quasars lie near the optical stellar locus and at z > 7, where optical selection is impossible. Using the superb multiwavelength coverage available in the NDWFS Bootes field, we construct the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of high-redshift quasars from observed BW band to 24 μm (rest-frame 600 Å-3.7 μm). We show that the three high-redshift quasars have quite similar SEDs, and the rest-frame composite SED of low-redshift quasars from the literature shows little evolution compared to our high-redshift objects. We compare the number of z > 5 quasars we have discovered to the expected number from published quasar luminosity functions. While analyses of the quasar luminosity function are tenuous based on only three objects, we find that a relatively steep luminosity function with Ψ ∝ L-3.2 provides the best agreement with the number of high-redshift quasars discovered in our survey.
The Astronomical Journal 12/2007; 132(2):823. · 4.03 Impact Factor