NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2003B-0343

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Proposal Information for 2003B-0343


PI: John Bahcall, Institute for Advanced Study, jnb@ias.edu
Address: School of Natural Sciences, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA

CoI: Saurabh Jha, Miller Institute, University of California, Berkeley
CoI: Ryan Chornock, University of California, Berkeley
CoI: Julie Comerford, University of California, Berkeley
CoI: Jason Wright, University of California, Berkeley

Title: Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of z ~eq 2 QSOs: Robust Constraints On A Varying Fine-Structure Constant

Abstract: We propose to place robust constraints on the variability of the fine-structure constant, through application of the optical doublet method with near-infrared H-band spectra of bright, z ~eq 2 quasars. With NIRSPEC on Keck II we will observe a large sample of ~35 objects at low resolution (R=2,200), and identify a subsample for which we will obtain high-resolution (R=25,000) spectra, enabling a very precise measurement of the wavelength separation of the [\ionO3] (lambda)(lambda)4959, 5007 nebular emission lines. These data will significantly extend the results of Bahcall, Steinhardt, & Schlegel (2003) to much higher redshift with higher precision, using a method which avoids many potential systematics that may affect the many- multiplet method (e.g., Webb et al. 2003). Our observations will be made public and will provide the community with more complete spectra of a sample of intermediate-redshift quasars in their heyday, enabling a number of additional projects.


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