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A High Yield of New Sightlines for the Study of Intergalactic Helium: Far-UV-Bright Quasars from SDSS, GALEX, and HST 1

By David Syphers, Scott F. Anderson, Wei Zheng, Daryl Haggard, Avery Meiksin, Kuenley Chiu, Craig Hogan, Donald P. Schneider and Donald G. York

Abstract

Investigations of He II Lyα (304 ˚A rest) absorption toward a half-dozen quasars at z ∼ 3 − 4 have demonstrated the great potential of helium studies of the IGM, but the current critically small sample size of clean sightlines for the He II Gunn-Peterson test limits confidence in cosmological inferences, and a larger sample is required. Although the unobscured quasar sightlines to high redshift are extremely rare, SDSS DR6 provides thousands of z> 2.8 quasars. We have cross-correlated these SDSS quasars with GALEX GR2/GR3 to establish a catalog of 200 higher-confidence (∼70 % secure) cases of quasars at z = 2.8 − 5.1 potentially having surviving far-UV (restframe) flux. We also catalog another 112 likely far-UV-bright quasars from GALEX cross-correlation with other (non-SDSS) quasar compilations. Reconnaissance UV prism observations with HST of 24 of our SDSS/GALEX candidates confirm 12 as detected in the far-UV,

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