We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Chris Done

Schulze, Andreas, Done, Chris, Lu, Youjun, Zhang, Fupeng & Inoue, Yoshiyuki (2017). Evidence for higher black hole spin in radio-loud quasars. The Astrophysical Journal 849(1): 4.

Author(s) from Durham


One of the major unsolved questions concerning the understanding of the active galactic nucleus population is the origin of the dichotomy between radio-quiet and radio-loud quasars. The most promising explanation is provided by the spin paradigm, which suggests that radio-loud quasars have a higher black hole spin. However, the measurement of black hole spin remains extremely challenging. We here aim at comparing the mean radiative efficiencies of carefully matched samples of radio-loud and radio-quiet Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) quasars at $0.3\lt z\lt 0.8$. We use the [O iii] luminosity as an indirect average tracer of the ionizing continuum in the extreme-UV regime where the differences in the spectral energy distribution (SED) due to black hole spin are most pronounced. We find that the radio-loud sample shows an enhancement in [O iii] line strength by a factor of at least 1.5 compared to a radio-quiet sample matched in redshift, black hole mass, and optical continuum luminosity or accretion rate. We argue that this enhancement is caused by differences in the SED, suggesting higher average bolometric luminosities at fixed accretion rate in the radio-loud population. This suggests that the radio-loud quasar population has on average systematically higher radiative efficiencies and therefore higher black hole spin than the radio-quiet population, providing observational support for the black hole spin paradigm.