QSO hosts Searching for H-R diagram of QSO The redshift of BL Lacertae objects The core fundamental plane of radio galaxies

The redshift of BL Lacertae objects

zbl
Figure 1: EXO 00556.4-3838: In this case the spectrum clearly shows the host galaxy spectral features (Caii 3 934, 3 968, G-band 4 305, and Mgi 5175 absorption lines) at z = 0.302. Absorption features in our galaxy are labelled by DIB (diffuse interstellar band).

BL Lacs are radio loud active galactic nuclei (AGN) in which the relativistic jet points toward the direction of the observer, so the continuum emission is significantly enhanced while the line equivalent width is depressed. These effects in several cases hinder the determination of their distance and the assessment of the properties of the class.

BL Lac objects thus offer one of the best opportunities to study relativistic jets from the radio- band to 100 MeV gamma-rays. The atmospheric Cherenkov technique has demonstrated that BL Lacs emit also in the TeV band. High signal-to-noise optical spectra of these sources obtained with the VLT help us to overcome these difficulties. This allows us to determine new redshifts and to set tight limits on the distance for pure lineless objects (Sbarufatti et al. 2005, Sbarufatti et al. 2006).

Several high S/N spectra of BL Lacs (see example in Figure) were taken and analysed through a new method, based on the properties of the host galaxies. This method allows to determine significant limits for objects with featureless optical spectra . Under the assumption that the host galaxy luminosity is confined into a narrow range (e.g. Sbarufatti et al. 2005) from the EW limits of spectral features, it is possible to constrain the position of the source on the nucleus-to-host flux ratio (ρ) vs redshift plane.

The optical spectra of BL Lacs obtained at the VLT have been made available to the astronomical community through a spectroscopic library ZBLLAC. These web pages are open to external contributions.

People: R. Falomo

Collaboration: B. Sbarufatti, A. Treves (Insubria), J. Kotilainen (Tuorla,FIN), R. Scarpa (ESO)

Recent Publication: Falomo et al. (2007), Msngr 129,42; Sbarufatti et al. (2009), AJ 137,337