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    We used Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) data to identify 29 candidate active galactic nuclei (AGNs) through their optical variability. The high-cadence, high-precision TESS light curves present an opportunity for the identification of AGNs, including those not selected through other methods. Of the candidates, we found that 18 have either previously been identified as AGNs in the literature or could have been selected based on emission-line diagnostics, mid-IR colours, or X-ray luminosity. AGNs in low-mass galaxies offer a unique window into supermassive black hole and galaxy co-evolution and 8 of the 29 candidates have estimated black hole masses ≲ 106 M⊙. The low-mass galaxies NGC 4395 and NGC 4449 are two of our five ‘high-confidence’ candidates. Since our initial sample largely draws from just nine TESS sectors, we expect to identify at least ∼45 more candidates in the TESS primary and extended mission data sets, of which ∼60 per cent will be new AGNs and ∼20 per cent will be in low-mass galaxies.

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  2. Abstract

    In 2017, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave (GW) detectors, in conjunction with electromagnetic (EM) astronomers, observed the first GW multimessenger astrophysical event, the binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817. This marked the beginning of a new era in multimessenger astrophysics. To discover further GW multimessenger events, we explore the synergies between the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and GW observations triggered by the LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA Collaboration (LVK) detector network. TESS's extremely wide field of view (∼2300 deg2) means that it could overlap with large swaths of GW localizations, which often span hundreds of square degrees or more. In this work, we use a recently developed transient detection pipeline to search TESS data collected during the LVK’s third observing run, O3, for any EM counterparts. We find no obvious counterparts brighter than about 17th magnitude in the TESS bandpass. Additionally, we present end-to-end simulations of BNS mergers, including their detection in GWs and simulations of light curves, to identify TESS's kilonova discovery potential for the LVK's next observing run (O4). In the most optimistic case, TESS will observe up to one GW-found BNS merger counterpart per year. However, TESS may also find up to five kilonovae that did not trigger the LVK network, emphasizing that EM-triggered GW searches may play a key role in future kilonova detections. We also discuss how TESS can help place limits on EM emission from binary black hole mergers and rapidly exclude large sky areas for poorly localized GW events.

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  3. Abstract

    Continuum reverberation mapping probes the size scale of the optical continuum-emitting region in active galactic nuclei (AGN). Through 3 yr of multiwavelength photometric monitoring in the optical with robotic observatories, we perform continuum reverberation mapping on Mrk 876. All wave bands show large-amplitude variability and are well correlated. Slow variations in the light curves broaden the cross-correlation function (CCF) significantly, requiring detrending in order to robustly recover interband lags. We measure consistent interband lags using three techniques (CCF, JAVELIN, and PyROA), with a lag of around 13 days fromutoz. These lags are longer than the expected radius of 12 days for the self-gravitating radius of the disk. The lags increase with wavelength roughly followingλ4/3, as would be expected from thin disk theory, but the lag normalization is approximately a factor of 3 longer than expected, as has also been observed in other AGN. The lag in theiband shows an excess that we attribute to variable Hαbroad-line emission. A flux–flux analysis shows a variable spectrum that followsfνλ−1/3, as expected for a disk, and an excess in theiband that also points to strong variable Hαemission in that band.

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  4. Abstract

    ASASSN-14ko is a nuclear transient at the center of the AGN ESO 253−G003 that undergoes periodic flares. Optical flares were first observed in 2014 by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) and their peak times are well-modeled with a period of115.21.2+1.3days and period derivative of −0.0026 ± 0.0006. Here we present ASAS-SN, Chandra, HST/STIS, NICER, Swift, and TESS data for the flares that occurred on 2020 December, 2021 April, 2021 July, and 2021 November. These four flares represent flares 18–21 of the total number of flares observed by ASAS-SN so far since 2014. The HST/STIS UV spectra evolve from blueshifted broad absorption features to redshifted broad emission features over ∼10 days. The Swift UV/optical light curves peaked as predicted by the timing model, but the peak UV luminosities that varied between flares and the UV flux in Flare 20 were roughly half the brightness of the other peaks. The X-ray luminosities consistently decreased and the spectra became harder during the UV/optical rise, but apparently without changes in absorption. Finally, two high-cadence TESS light curves from Flare 18 and Flare 12 showed that the slopes during the rising and declining phases changed over time, which indicates some stochasticity in the flare’s driving mechanism. Although ASASSN-14ko remains observationally consistent with a repeating partial tidal disruption event, these rich multi-wavelength data are in need of a detailed theoretical model.

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    We analyse high-cadence data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) of the ambiguous nuclear transient (ANT) ASASSN-18el. The optical changing-look phenomenon in ASASSN-18el has been argued to be due to either a drastic change in the accretion rate of the existing active galactic nucleus (AGN) or the result of a tidal disruption event (TDE). Throughout the TESS observations, short-time-scale stochastic variability is seen, consistent with an AGN. We are able to fit the TESS light curve with a damped-random-walk (DRW) model and recover a rest-frame variability amplitude of $\hat{\sigma } = 0.93 \pm 0.02$ mJy and a rest-frame time-scale of $\tau _{DRW} = 20^{+15}_{-6}$ d. We find that the estimated τDRW for ASASSN-18el is broadly consistent with an apparent relationship between the DRW time-scale and central supermassive black hole mass. The large-amplitude stochastic variability of ASASSN-18el, particularly during late stages of the flare, suggests that the origin of this ANT is likely due to extreme AGN activity rather than a TDE.

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  6. Abstract

    We present observations of ASASSN-20hx, a nearby ambiguous nuclear transient (ANT) discovered in NGC 6297 by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN). We observed ASASSN-20hx from −30 to 275 days relative to the peak UV/optical emission using high-cadence, multiwavelength spectroscopy and photometry. From Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite data, we determine that the ANT began to brighten on 2020 June 22.8 with a linear rise in flux for at least the first week. ASASSN-20hx peaked in the UV/optical 30 days later on 2020 July 22.8 (MJD = 59052.8) at a bolometric luminosity ofL= (3.15 ± 0.04) × 1043erg s−1. The subsequent decline is slower than any TDE observed to date and consistent with many other ANTs. Compared to an archival X-ray detection, the X-ray luminosity of ASASSN-20hx increased by an order of magnitude toLx∼ 1.5 × 1042erg s−1and then slowly declined over time. The X-ray emission is well fit by a power law with a photon index of Γ ∼ 2.3–2.6. Both the optical and near-infrared spectra of ASASSN-20hx lack emission lines, unusual for any known class of nuclear transient. While ASASSN-20hx has some characteristics seen in both tidal disruption events and active galactic nuclei, it cannot be definitively classified with current data.

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  8. Abstract We report the discovery of HIP-97166b (TOI-1255b), a transiting sub-Neptune on a 10.3 day orbit around a K0 dwarf 68 pc from Earth. This planet was identified in a systematic search of TESS Objects of Interest for planets with eccentric orbits, based on a mismatch between the observed transit duration and the expected duration for a circular orbit. We confirmed the planetary nature of HIP-97166b with ground-based radial-velocity measurements and measured a mass of M b = 20 ± 2 M ⊕ along with a radius of R b = 2.7 ± 0.1 R ⊕ from photometry. We detected an additional nontransiting planetary companion with M c sin i = 10 ± 2 M ⊕ on a 16.8 day orbit. While the short transit duration of the inner planet initially suggested a high eccentricity, a joint RV-photometry analysis revealed a high impact parameter b = 0.84 ± 0.03 and a moderate eccentricity. Modeling the dynamics with the condition that the system remain stable over >10 5 orbits yielded eccentricity constraints e b = 0.16 ± 0.03 and e c < 0.25. The eccentricity we find for planet b is above average for the small population of sub-Neptunes with well-measured eccentricities. We explored the plausible formation pathways of this system, proposing an early instability and merger event to explain the high density of the inner planet at 5.3 ± 0.9 g cc −1 as well as its moderate eccentricity and proximity to a 5:3 mean-motion resonance. 
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  9. null (Ed.)