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  1. ABSTRACT We present a revised analysis of the photometric reverberation mapping campaign of the narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy PKS 0558 − 504 carried out with the Swift Observatory during 2008–2010. Previously, Gliozzi et al. (2013) found using the Discrete Correlation Function (DCF) method that the short-wavelength continuum variations lagged behind variations at longer wavelengths, the opposite of the trend expected for thermal reprocessing of X-rays by the accretion disc, and they interpreted their results as evidence against the reprocessing model. We carried out new DCF measurements that demonstrate that the inverted lag-wavelength relationship found by Gliozzi et al. resulted from their having interchanged the order of the driving and responding light curves when measuring the lags. To determine the inter-band lags and uncertainties more accurately, we carried out new measurements with four independent methods. These give consistent results showing time delays increasing as a function of wavelength, as expected for the disc reprocessing scenario. The slope of the re-analysed delay spectrum appears to be roughly compatible with the predicted τ ∝ λ4/3 relationship for reprocessing by an optically thick and geometrically thin accretion disc, although the data points exhibit a large scatter about the fitted power-law trend.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 2, 2023

    Multiwavelength variability studies of active galactic nuclei can be used to probe their inner regions that are not directly resolvable. Dust reverberation mapping (DRM) estimates the size of the dust emitting region by measuring the delays between the infrared (IR) response to variability in the optical light curves. We measure DRM lags of Zw229-015 between optical ground-based and Kepler light curves and concurrent IR Spitzer 3.6 and 4.5 µm light curves from 2010 to 2015, finding an overall mean rest-frame lag of 18.3 ± 4.5 d. Each combination of optical and IR light curve returns lags that are consistent with each other within 1σ, which implies that the different wavelengths are dominated by the same hot dust emission. The lags measured for Zw229-015 are found to be consistently smaller than predictions using the lag–luminosity relationship. Also, the overall IR response to the optical emission actually depends on the geometry and structure of the dust emitting region as well, so we use Markov chain Monte Carlo modelling to simulate the dust distribution to further estimate these structural and geometrical properties. We find that a large increase in flux between the 2011–2012 observation seasons, which is more dramatic in the IR light curve, is notmore »well simulated by a single dust component. When excluding this increase in flux, the modelling consistently suggests that the dust is distributed in an extended flat disc, and finds a mean inclination angle of 49$^{+3}_{-13}$ deg.

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  3. ABSTRACT We present the first intensive continuum reverberation mapping study of the high accretion-rate Seyfert galaxy Mrk 110. The source was monitored almost daily for more than 200 d with the Swift X-ray and ultraviolet (UV)/optical telescopes, supported by ground-based observations from Las Cumbres Observatory, the Liverpool Telescope, and the Zowada Observatory, thus extending the wavelength coverage to 9100 Å. Mrk 110 was found to be significantly variable at all wavebands. Analysis of the intraband lags reveals two different behaviours, depending on the time-scale. On time-scales shorter than 10 d the lags, relative to the shortest UV waveband (∼1928 Å), increase with increasing wavelength up to a maximum of ∼2 d lag for the longest waveband (∼9100 Å), consistent with the expectation from disc reverberation. On longer time-scales, however, the g-band lags the Swift BAT hard X-rays by ∼10 d, with the z-band lagging the g-band by a similar amount, which cannot be explained in terms of simple reprocessing from the accretion disc. We interpret this result as an interplay between the emission from the accretion disc and diffuse continuum radiation from the broad-line region.
  4. ABSTRACT We present results of time-series analysis of the first year of the Fairall 9 intensive disc-reverberation campaign. We used Swift and the Las Cumbres Observatory global telescope network to continuously monitor Fairall 9 from X-rays to near-infrared at a daily to subdaily cadence. The cross-correlation function between bands provides evidence for a lag spectrum consistent with the τ ∝ λ4/3 scaling expected for an optically thick, geometrically thin blackbody accretion disc. Decomposing the flux into constant and variable components, the variable component’s spectral energy distribution is slightly steeper than the standard accretion disc prediction. We find evidence at the Balmer edge in both the lag and flux spectra for an additional bound-free continuum contribution that may arise from reprocessing in the broad-line region. The inferred driving light curve suggests two distinct components, a rapidly variable (<4 d) component arising from X-ray reprocessing, and a more slowly varying (>100 d) component with an opposite lag to the reverberation signal.
  5. Abstract We have recently initiated the first spectroscopic dust reverberation programme on active galactic nuclei in the near-infrared. Spectroscopy enables measurement of dust properties, such as flux, temperature, and covering factor, with higher precision than photometry. In particular, it enables measurement of both luminosity-based dust radii and dust response times. Here we report results from a 1 yr campaign on NGC 5548. The hot dust responds to changes in the irradiating flux with a lag time of ∼70 light-days, similar to what was previously found in photometric reverberation campaigns. The mean and rms spectra are similar, implying that the same dust component dominates both the emission and the variations. The dust lag time is consistent with the luminosity-based dust radius only if we assume a wavelength-independent dust emissivity law, i.e. a blackbody, which is appropriate for grains of large sizes (of a few μm). For such grains the dust temperature is ∼1450 K. Therefore, silicate grains have most likely evaporated and carbon is the main chemical component. But the hot dust is not close to its sublimation temperature, contrary to popular belief. This is further supported by our observation of temperature variations largely consistent with a heating/cooling process. Therefore, the inner dust-free regionmore »is enlarged and the dusty torus rather a ‘dusty wall’, whose inner radius is expected to be luminosity-invariant. The dust-destruction mechanism that enlarges the dust-free region seems to also partly affect the dusty region. We observe a cyclical decrease in dust mass with implied dust reformation times of ∼5–6 months.« less
  6. 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 themore »continuum during the holiday can also explain the anomalous emission-line behavior observed.« less