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Letters of the Astrophysical Journal


We explore the connection between absorption by neutral gas and extinction by dust in mid-infrared (IR) selected luminous quasars. We use a sample of 33 quasars at redshifts 0.7 < z < 3 in the 9 deg^2 Bo\"otes multiwavelength survey field that are selected using Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Array Camera colors and are well-detected as luminous X-ray sources (with >150 counts) in Chandra observations. We divide the quasars into dust-obscured and unobscured samples based on their optical to mid-IR color, and measure the neutral hydrogen column density N_H through fitting of the X-ray spectra. We find that all subsets of quasars have consistent power law photon indices equal to 1.9 that are uncorrelated with N_H. We classify the quasars as gas-absorbed or gas-unabsorbed if N_H > 10^22 cm^-2 or N_H < 10^22 cm^-2, respectively. Of 24 dust-unobscured quasars in the sample, only one shows clear evidence for significant intrinsic N_H, while 22 have column densities consistent with N_H < 10^22 cm^-2. In contrast, of the nine dust-obscured quasars, six show evidence for intrinsic gas absorption, and three are consistent with N_H < 10^22 cm^-2. We conclude that dust extinction in IR-selected quasars is strongly correlated with significant gas absorption as determined through X-ray spectral fitting. These results suggest that obscuring gas and dust in quasars are generally co-spatial, and confirm the reliability of simple mid-IR and optical photometric techniques for separating quasars based on obscuration.