Quasar Clustering at $25\kpch$ from a Complete Sample of Binaries

Myers, Adam D.
Richards, Gordon T.
Brunner, Robert J.
Schneider, Donald P.
Strand, Natalie E.
Hall, Patrick B.
Blomquist, Jeffrey A.
York, Donald G.
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We present spectroscopy of binary quasar candidates selected from Data Release 4 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS DR4) using Kernel Density Estimation (KDE). We present 27 new sets of observations, 10 of which are binary quasars, roughly doubling the number of known $g < 21$ binaries with component separations of 3 to 6". Only 3 of 49 spectroscopically identified objects are non-quasars, confirming that the quasar selection efficiency of the KDE technique is $\sim95$%. Several of our observed binaries are wide-separation lens candidates that merit additional higher-resolution observations. One interesting pair may be an M star binary, or an M star-binary quasar superposition. Our candidates are initially selected by UV-excess ($u-g < 1$), but are otherwise selected irrespective of the relative colors of the quasar pair, and we thus use them to suggest optimal color similarity and photometric redshift approaches for targeting binary quasars, or projected quasar pairs. From a sample that is complete on proper scales of $23.7 < R_{prop} < 29.7\kpch$, we determine the projected quasar correlation function to be $W_p=24.0 \pm^{16.9}_{10.8}$, which is $2\sigma$ lower than recent estimates. We argue that our low $W_p$ estimates may indicate redshift evolution in the quasar correlation function from $z\sim1.9$ to $z\sim1.4$ on scales of $R_{prop} \sim25\kpch$. The size of this evolution broadly tracks quasar clustering on larger scales, consistent with merger-driven models of quasar origin. Although our sample alone is insufficient to detect evolution in quasar clustering on small scales, an $i$-selected DR6 KDE quasar catalog, which will contain several hundred $z \leqsim 5$ binary quasars, could easily constrain any clustering evolution at $R_{prop} \sim25\kpch$.
Comment: Submitted to ApJ, 15 emulateapj pages, 7 are text, new observations based on KPNO data