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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

The VVDS type-1 AGN sample: The faint end of the luminosity function

A. Bongiorno, G. Zamorani, I. Gavignaud, B. Marano, S. Paltani, G. Mathez, J.-P. Picat, M. Cirasuolo, F. Lamareille, D. Bottini, B. Garilli, V. Le Brun, O. Le Fèvre, D. Maccagni, R. Scaramella, M. Scodeggio, L. Tresse, G. Vettolani, A. Zanichelli, C. Adami, S. Arnouts, S. Bardelli, M. Bolzonella, A. Cappi, S. Charlot, P. Ciliegi, T. Contini, S. Foucaud, P. Franzetti, L. Guzzo, O. Ilbert, A. Iovino, H. J. McCracken, C. Marinoni, A. Mazure, B. Meneux, R. Merighi, R. Pellò, A. Pollo, L. Pozzetti, M. Radovich, E. Zucca, E. Hatziminaoglou, M. Polletta, M. Bondi, J. Brinchmann, O. Cucciati, S. de la Torre, L. Gregorini, Y. Mellier, P. Merluzzi, S. Temporin, D. Vergani, C. J. Walcher

In a previous paper (Gavignaud et al. 2006), we presented the type–1 Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) sample obtained from the first epoch data of the VIMOS-VLT Deep Survey (VVDS). The sample consists of 130 faint, broad-line AGN with redshift up to z = 5 and 17.5 < IAB < 24.0, selected on the basis of their spectra. In this paper we present the measurement of the Optical Luminosity Function up to z = 3.6 derived from this sample, we compare our results with previous results from brighter samples both at low and at high redshift. Our data, more than one magnitude fainter than previous optical surveys, allow us to constrain the faint part of the luminosity function up to high redshift. By combining our faint VVDS sample with the large sample of bright AGN extracted from the SDSS DR3 (Richards et al., 2006b), we find that the model which better represents the combined luminosity functions, over a wide range of redshift and luminosity, is a luminosity dependent density evolution (LDDE) model similar to those derived from the major X-surveys. Such a parameterization allows th redshift of the AGN space density peak to change as a function of luminosity and explains the excess of faint AGN that we find at 1.0 < z < 1.5. On the basis of this model we find, for the first time from the analysis of optically selected samples, that the peak of the AGN space density shifts significantly towards lower redshift going to lower luminosity objects. This result, already found in a number of X-ray selected samples of AGN, is consistent with a scenario of “AGN cosmic downsizing”, in which th density of more luminous AGN, possibly associated to more massive black holes, peaks earlier in the history of the Universe, than that of low luminosity ones.

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 472, Page 443
September 2007

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