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Title: Candidate Periodically Variable Quasars from the Dark Energy Survey and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
Abstract Periodically variable quasars have been suggested as close binary supermassive black holes. We present a systematic search for periodic light curves in 625 spectroscopically confirmed quasars with a median redshift of 1.8 in a 4.6 deg2 overlapping region of the Dark Energy Survey Supernova (DES-SN) fields and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Stripe 82 (SDSS-S82). Our sample has a unique 20-year long multi-color (griz) light curve enabled by combining DES-SN Y6 observations with archival SDSS-S82 data. The deep imaging allows us to search for periodic light curves in less luminous quasars (down to r ∼23.5 mag) powered by less massive black holes (with masses ≳ 108.5M⊙) at high redshift for the first time. We find five candidates with significant (at >99.74% single-frequency significance in at least two bands with a global p-value of ∼7 × 10−4–3× 10−3 accounting for the look-elsewhere effect) periodicity with observed periods of ∼3–5 years (i.e., 1–2 years in rest frame) having ∼4–6 cycles spanned by the observations. If all five candidates are periodically variable quasars, this translates into a detection rate of ${\sim }0.8^{+0.5}_{-0.3}$% or ${\sim }1.1^{+0.7}_{-0.5}$ quasar per deg2. Our detection rate is 4–80 times larger than those found by previous searches using shallower surveys over larger more » areas. This discrepancy is likely caused by differences in the quasar populations probed and the survey data qualities. We discuss implications on the future direct detection of low-frequency gravitational waves. Continued photometric monitoring will further assess the robustness and characteristics of these candidate periodic quasars to determine their physical origins. « less
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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National Science Foundation
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