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  1. Abstract

    Dual and off-nucleus active supermassive black holes are expected to be common in the hierarchical structure formation paradigm, but their identification at parsec scales remains a challenge due to strict angular resolution requirements. We conducted a systematic study using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to examine 23 radio-bright candidate dual and off-nucleus quasars. The targets are selected by a novel astrometric technique (varstrometry) from Gaia, aiming to identify dual or off-nucleus quasars at (sub)kiloparsec scales. Among these quasars, eight exhibit either multiple radio components or significant (>3σ) positional offsets between the VLBA and Gaia positions. The radio emission from the three candidates, which exhibit multiple radio components, is likely to originate from small-scale jets based on their morphology. Among the remaining five candidates with significant VLBA-Gaia offsets, three are identified as potential dual quasars at parsec scales, one is likely attributed to small-scale jets, and the origin of the last candidate remains unclear. We explore alternative explanations for the observed VLBA-Gaia offsets. We find no evidence for optical jets at kiloparsec scales, nor any contamination to Gaia astrometric noise from the host galaxy; misaligned coordinate systems are unlikely to account for our offsets. Our study highlights the promise of the varstrometry technique in discovering candidate dual or off-nucleus quasars and emphasizes the need for further confirmation and investigation to validate and understand these intriguing candidates.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Mrk 1018 is a nearby changing-look active galactic nucleus (AGN) that has oscillated between spectral Type 1.9 and Type 1 over a period of 40 yr. Recently, a recoiling supermassive black hole (rSMBH) scenario has been proposed to explain the spectral and flux variability observed in this AGN. Detections of rSMBHs are important for understanding the processes by which SMBH binaries merge and how rSMBHs influence their galactic environment through feedback mechanisms. However, conclusive identification of any rSMBHs has remained elusive to date. In this paper, we present an analysis of 6.5 yr of multifrequency Very Long Baseline Array monitoring of Mrk 1018. We find that the radio emission is compact down to 2.4 pc, and it displays flux density and spectral variability over the length of our campaign, typical of a flat-spectrum radio core. We observe proper motion in RA of the radio core at −36.4 ± 8.6μas yr−1(4.2σ), or 0.10c± 0.02cat the redshift of Mrk 1018. No significant proper motion is found in DEC (31.3 ± 25.1μas yr−1). We discuss possible physical mechanisms driving the proper motion, including an rSMBH. We conclude that the apparent velocity we observe of the VLBI radio core is too high to reconcile with theoretical predictions of rSMBH velocities and that the proper motion is most likely dominated by an unresolved, outflowing jet component. Future observations may yet reveal the true nature of Mrk 1018. However, our observations are not able to confirm it as a true rSMBH.

     
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  3. Abstract Supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) are an inevitable consequence of galaxy mergers. At sub-parsec separations, they are practically impossible to resolve, and the most promising technique is to search for quasars with periodic variability. However, searches for quasar periodicity in time-domain data are challenging due to the stochastic variability of quasars. In this paper, we used Bayesian methods to disentangle periodic SMBHB signals from intrinsic damped random walk (DRW) variability in active galactic nuclei light curves. We simulated a wide variety of realistic DRW and DRW+sine light curves. Their observed properties are modeled after the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CRTS) and expected properties of the upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Through a careful analysis of parameter estimation and Bayesian model selection, we investigated the range of parameter space for which binary systems can be detected. We also examined which DRW signals can mimic periodicity and be falsely classified as binary candidates. We found that periodic signals are more easily detectable if the period is short or the amplitude of the signal is large compared to the contribution of the DRW noise. We saw similar detection rates both in the CRTS and LSST-like simulations, while the false-detection rate depends on the quality of the data and is minimal in LSST. Our idealized simulations provide an excellent way to uncover the intrinsic limitations in quasar periodicity searches and set the stage for future searches for SMBHBs. 
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  4. Abstract Previous Ku -band (15 GHz) imaging with data obtained from the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) had shown two compact, subparsec components at the location of a presumed kiloparsec-scale radio core in Seyfert galaxy NGC 7674. It was then presumed that these two unresolved and compact components were dual radio cores corresponding to two supermassive black holes (SMBHs) accreting surrounding gas and launching radio-bright relativistic jets. However, utilizing the original VLBA data set used to claim the detection of a binary SMBH, in addition to later multiepoch/multifrequency data sets obtained from both the VLBA and the European very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) network, we find no evidence to support the presence of a binary SMBH. We place stringent upper limits to the flux densities of any subparsec-scale radio cores that are at least an order of magnitude lower than the original VLBI radio-core detections, directly challenging the original binary SMBH detection claim. With this in mind, we discuss the possible reasons for the nondetection of any VLBI radio cores in our imaging, the possibility of a binary SMBH still residing in NGC 7674, and the prospect of future observations shedding further light on the true nature of this active galactic nucleus. 
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  5. The dispersive sweep of fast radio bursts (FRBs) has been used to probe the ionized baryon content of the intergalactic medium, which is assumed to dominate the total extragalactic dispersion. While the host galaxy contributions to dispersion measure (DM) appear to be small for most FRBs, in at least one case there is evidence for an extreme magneto-ionic local environment and a compact persistent radio source. Here we report the detection and localization of the repeating FRB 20190520B, which is co-located with a compact, persistent radio source and associated with a dwarf host galaxy of high specific star formation rate at a redshift z=0.241±0.001. The estimated host galaxy DM~≈903+72−111~pc~cm−3, nearly an order of magnitude higher than the average of FRB host galaxies, far exceeds the DM contribution of the intergalactic medium. Caution is thus warranted in inferring redshifts for FRBs without accurate host galaxy identifications. The dense FRB environment and the association with a compact persistent radio source may point to a distinctive origin or an earlier evolutionary stage for this FRB source. 
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  6. Supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) are an inevitable consequence of galaxy mergers. At sub-parsec separations, they are practically impossible to resolve and the most promising technique is to search for quasars with periodic variability. However, searches for quasar periodicity in time-domain data are challenging due to the stochastic variability of quasars. In this paper, we used Bayesian methods to disentangle periodic SMBHB signals from intrinsic damped random walk (DRW) variability in AGN light curves. We simulated a wide variety of realistic DRW and DRW+sine light curves. Their observed properties are modeled after the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CRTS) and expected properties of the upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Through a careful analysis of parameter estimation and Bayesian model selection, we investigated the range of parameter space for which binary systems can be detected. We also examined which DRW signals can mimic periodicity and be falsely classified as binary candidates. We found that periodic signals are more easily detectable if the period is short or the amplitude of the signal is large compared to the contribution of the DRW noise. We saw similar detection rates both in the CRTS and LSST-like simulations, while the false detection rate depends on the quality of the data and is minimal in LSST. Our idealized simulations provide an excellent way to uncover the intrinsic limitations in quasar periodicity searches and set the stage for future searches for SMBHBs. 
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  7. Abstract We present an analysis of a densely repeating sample of bursts from the first repeating fast radio burst, FRB 121102. We reanalyzed the data used by Gourdji et al. and detected 93 additional bursts using our single-pulse search pipeline. In total, we detected 133 bursts in three hours of data at a center frequency of 1.4 GHz using the Arecibo telescope, and develop robust modeling strategies to constrain the spectro-temporal properties of all of the bursts in the sample. Most of the burst profiles show a scattering tail, and burst spectra are well modeled by a Gaussian with a median width of 230 MHz. We find a lack of emission below 1300 MHz, consistent with previous studies of FRB 121102. We also find that the peak of the log-normal distribution of wait times decreases from 207 to 75 s using our larger sample of bursts, as compared to that of Gourdji et al. Our observations do not favor either Poissonian or Weibull distributions for the burst rate distribution. We searched for periodicity in the bursts using multiple techniques, but did not detect any significant period. The cumulative burst energy distribution exhibits a broken power-law shape, with the lower- and higher-energy slopes of −0.4 ± 0.1 and −1.8 ± 0.2, with the break at (2.3 ± 0.2) × 10 37 erg. We provide our burst fitting routines as a Python package burstfit 4 4 https://github.com/thepetabyteproject/burstfit that can be used to model the spectrogram of any complex fast radio burst or pulsar pulse using robust fitting techniques. All of the other analysis scripts and results are publicly available. 5 5 https://github.com/thepetabyteproject/FRB121102 
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  8. ABSTRACT

    The physical properties of fast radio burst (FRB) host galaxies provide important clues towards the nature of FRB sources. The 16 FRB hosts identified thus far span three orders of magnitude in mass and specific star formation rate, implicating a ubiquitously occurring progenitor object. FRBs localized with ∼arcsecond accuracy also enable effective searches for associated multiwavelength and multi-time-scale counterparts, such as the persistent radio source associated with FRB 20121102A. Here we present a localization of the repeating source FRB 20201124A, and its association with a host galaxy (SDSS J050803.48+260338.0, z = 0.098) and persistent radio source. The galaxy is massive (${\sim}3\times 10^{10}\, \text{M}_{\odot }$), star-forming (few solar masses per year), and dusty. Very Large Array and Very Long Baseline Array observations of the persistent radio source measure a luminosity of 1.2 × 1029 erg s−1 Hz−1, and show that is extended on scales ≳50 mas. We associate this radio emission with the ongoing star formation activity in SDSS J050803.48+260338.0. Deeper, high-resolution optical observations are required to better utilize the milliarcsecond-scale localization of FRB 20201124A and determine the origin of the large dispersion measure (150–220 pc cm−3) contributed by the host. SDSS J050803.48+260338.0 is an order of magnitude more massive than any galaxy or stellar system previously associated with a repeating FRB source, but is comparable to the hosts of so far non-repeating FRBs, further building the link between the two apparent populations.

     
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  9. null (Ed.)