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Title: Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project. X. Understanding the Absorption-Line Holiday in NGC 5548
The Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project (AGN STORM) on NGC 5548 in 2014 is one of the most intensive multi-wavelength AGN monitoring campaigns ever. For most of the campaign,the emission-line variations followed changes in the continuum with a time lag, as expected. However, the lines varied independently of the observed UV-optical continuum during a 60-70 day holiday, suggesting that unobserved changes to the ionizing continuum were present. To understand this remarkable phenomenon and to obtain an independent assessment of the ionizing continuum variations, we study the intrinsic absorption lines present in NGC 5548. We identify a novel cycle that reproduces the absorption line variability and thus identify the physics that allows the holiday to occur. In this cycle, variations in this obscurer’s line-of-sight covering factor modify the soft X-ray continuum, changing the ionization of helium. Ionizing radiation produced by recombining helium then affects the level of ionization of some ions seen by HST. In particular, high-ionization species are affected by changes in the obscurer covering factor, which does not affect the optical or UV continuum, so appear as uncorrelated changes, a “holiday”. It is likely that any other model which selectively changes the soft X-ray part of the more » continuum during the holiday can also explain the anomalous emission-line behavior observed. « less
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