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The FIRST Bright QSO Survey

Michael D.Gregg, Robert H.Becker, Richard L. White, David J. Helfand, Richard G.McMahon, Isobel M. Hook


The FIRST radio survey provides a new resource for constructing a large quasar sample. With source positions accurate to better than 1" and a point source sensitivity limit of 1 mJy, it reaches 50 times deeper than previous radio catalogs. We report here on the results of the pilot phase for a FIRST Bright Quasar Survey (FBQS). Based on matching the radio catalog from the initial 300 deg^2 of FIRST coverage with the optical catalog from the Automated Plate Machine (APM) digitization of Palomar Sky Survey plates, we have defined a sample of 219 quasar candidates brighter than E = 17.50. We have obtained optical spectroscopy for 151 of these and classified 25 others from the literature, yielding 69 quasars or Seyfert1 galaxies, of which 51 are new identifications. The brightest new quasar has an E magnitude of 14.6 and z = 0.91; four others are brighter than E = 16.The redshifts range from z=0.12 to 3.42. Half of the detected objects are radio quiet with L_21cm < 10^32.5 ergs/s. We use the results of this pilot survey to establish criteria for the FBQS that will produce a quasar search program which will be 70 % efficient and 95% complete to a 21-cm flux density limit of 1.0 mJy.