Hernán Caballero, A., Hatziminaoglou, E., Alonso Herrero, A., Mateos, S. 2016. The near-to-mid infrared spectrum of quasars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 463, 2, 2064-2078 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw2107
We analyse a sample of 85 luminous (log (nu L-nu(3 mu m)/erg s(-1)) > 45.5) quasars with rest frame similar to 21 mu m spectroscopy from AKARI and Spitzer. Their high luminosity allows a direct determination of the near-infrared quasar spectrum free from host galaxy emission. A semi-empirical model consisting of a single template for the accretion disc and two blackbodies for the dust emission successfully reproduces the 0.1-10 mu m spectral energy distributions (SEDs). Excess emission at 1-2 mu m over the best-fitting model suggests that hotter dust is necessary in addition to the similar to 1200 K blackbody and the disc to reproduce the entire near-infrared spectrum. Variation in the extinction affecting the disc and in the relative strength of the disc and dust components accounts for the diversity of individual SEDs. Quasars with higher dust-to-disc luminosity ratios show slightly redder infrared continua and less prominent silicate emission. We find no luminosity dependence in the shape of the average infrared quasar spectrum. We generate a new quasar template that covers the rest-frame range 0.1-11 mu m, and separate templates for the disc and dust components. Comparison with other infrared quasar composites suggests that previous ones are less reliable in the 2-4 mu m range. Our template is the first one to provide a detailed view of the infrared emission on both sides of the 4 mu m bump.