Discovery of Two Spectroscopically Peculiar, Low-Luminosity Quasars at z~4


We report the discovery of two low-luminosity quasars at z~4, both of which show prominent N IV] 1486A emission. This line is extremely rare in quasar spectra at any redshift; detecting it in two out of a sample of 23 objects (i.e., ~ 9% of the sample) is intriguing and is likely due to the low-luminosity, high-redshift quasar sample we are studying. This is still a poorly explored regime, where contributions from associated, early starbursts may be significant. One interpretation of this line posits photoionization by very massive young stars. Seeing N IV] 1486A emission in a high-redshift quasar may thus be understood in the context of co-formation and early co-evolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes. Alternatively, we may be seeing a phenomenon related to the early evolution of quasar broad emission line regions. The non-detection (and possibly even broad absorption) of N V 1240A line in the spectrum of one of these quasars may support that interpretation. These two objects may signal a new faint quasar population or an early AGN evolutionary stage at high redshifts.