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  1. Abstract We perform a systematic survey of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) continuum lags using ∼3 days cadence gri -band light curves from the Zwicky Transient Facility. We select a sample of 94 type 1 AGNs at z < 0.8 with significant and consistent inter-band lags based on the interpolated cross-correlation function method and the Bayesian method JAVELIN . Within the framework of the “lamp-post” reprocessing model, our findings are: (1) The continuum emission (CE) sizes inferred from the data are larger than the disk sizes predicted by the standard thin-disk model. (2) For a subset of the sample, the CE size exceeds the theoretical limit of the self-gravity radius (12 lt-days) for geometrically thin disks. (3) The CE size scales with continuum luminosity as R CE ∝ L 0.48±0.04 with a scatter of 0.2 dex, analogous to the well-known radius–luminosity relation of broad H β . These findings suggest a significant contribution of diffuse continuum emission from the broad-line region (BLR) to AGN continuum lags. We find that the R CE – L relation can be explained by a photoionization model that assumes ∼23% of the total flux comes from the diffuse BLR emission. In addition, the ratio of themore »CE size and model-predicted disk size anticorrelates with the continuum luminosity, which is indicative of a potential nondisk BLR lag contribution evolving with the luminosity. Finally, a robust positive correlation between the CE size and black hole mass is detected.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. Abstract In order to constrain the size of the optical continuum emission region in the dwarf Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 4395 through reverberation mapping, we carried out high-cadence photometric monitoring in the griz filter bands on two consecutive nights in 2022 April using the four-channel MuSCAT3 camera on the Faulkes Telescope North at Haleakalā Observatory. Correlated variability across the griz bands is clearly detected, and the r -, i -, and z -band light curves show lags of 7.72 − 1.09 + 1.01 , 14.16 − 1.25 + 1.22 , and 20.78 − 2.09 + 1.99 minutes with respect to the g band when measured using the full-duration light curves. When lags are measured for each night separately, the Night 2 data exhibit lower cross-correlation amplitudes and shorter lags than the Night 1 light curves. Using the full-duration lags, we find that the lag–wavelength relationship is consistent with the τ ∝ λ 4/3 dependence found for more luminous active galactic nuclei. Combining our results with continuum lags measured for other objects, the lag between g and z band scales with optical continuum luminosity as τ gz ∝ L 0.56±0.05 , similar to the scaling of broad-line region size with luminosity,more »reinforcing recent evidence that diffuse continuum emission from the broad-line region may contribute substantially to optical continuum variability and reverberation lags.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. ABSTRACT We report on continued, ∼15-yr long, broad Balmer emission lines in three metal-poor dwarf emission-line galaxies selected from Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopy. The persistent luminosity of the broad Balmer emission indicates the galaxies are active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with virial black hole masses of ∼106.7–107.0 M⊙. The lack of observed hard X-ray emission and the possibility that the Balmer emission could be due to a long-lived stellar transient motivated additional follow-up spectroscopy. We also identify a previously unreported blueshifted narrow absorption line in the broad H α feature in one of the AGNs, indicating an AGN-driven outflow with hydrogen column densities of order 1017 cm−2. We also extract light curves from the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey and the Zwicky Transient Facility. We detect probable AGN-like variability in three galaxies, further supporting the AGN scenario. This also suggests the AGNs are not strongly obscured. This sample of galaxies are among the most metal-poor that host an AGN (Z = 0.05–0.16 Z⊙). We speculate they may be analogues to seed black holes which formed in unevolved galaxies at high redshift. Given the rarity of metal-poor AGNs and small sample size available, we investigate prospects for their identification in future spectroscopic and photometric surveys.
  4. Abstract Photoionization modeling of active galactic nuclei (AGN) predicts that diffuse continuum (DC) emission from the broad-line region makes a substantial contribution to the total continuum emission from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths. Evidence for this DC component is present in the strong Balmer jump feature in AGN spectra, and possibly from reverberation measurements that find longer lags than expected from disk emission alone. However, the Balmer jump region contains numerous blended emission features, making it difficult to isolate the DC emission strength. In contrast, the Paschen jump region near 8200 Å is relatively uncontaminated by other strong emission features. Here, we examine whether the Paschen jump can aid in constraining the DC contribution, using Hubble Space Telescope Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph spectra of six nearby Seyfert 1 nuclei. The spectra appear smooth across the Paschen edge, and we find no evidence of a Paschen spectral break or jump in total flux. We fit multicomponent spectral models over the range 6800–9700 Å and find that the spectra can still be compatible with a significant DC contribution if the DC Paschen jump is offset by an opposite spectral break resulting from blended high-order Paschen emission lines. The fits imply DC contributions rangingmore »from ∼10% to 50% at 8000 Å, but the fitting results are highly dependent on assumptions made about other model components. These degeneracies can potentially be alleviated by carrying out fits over a broader wavelength range, provided that models can accurately represent the disk continuum shape, Fe ii emission, high-order Balmer line emission, and other components.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  5. Abstract We report the results of near-infrared spectroscopic observations of 37 quasars in the redshift range 6.3 < z ≤ 7.64, including 32 quasars at z > 6.5, forming the largest quasar near-infrared spectral sample at this redshift. The spectra, taken with Keck, Gemini, VLT, and Magellan, allow investigations of central black hole mass and quasar rest-frame ultraviolet spectral properties. The black hole masses derived from the Mg ii emission lines are in the range (0.3–3.6) × 10 9 M ⊙ , which requires massive seed black holes with masses ≳10 3 –10 4 M ⊙ , assuming Eddington accretion since z = 30. The Eddington ratio distribution peaks at λ Edd ∼ 0.8 and has a mean of 1.08, suggesting high accretion rates for these quasars. The C iv –Mg ii emission-line velocity differences in our sample show an increase of C iv blueshift toward higher redshift, but the evolutionary trend observed from this sample is weaker than the previous results from smaller samples at similar redshift. The Fe ii /Mg ii flux ratios derived for these quasars up to z = 7.6, compared with previous measurements at different redshifts, do not show any evidence of strong redshift evolution,more »suggesting metal-enriched environments in these quasars. Using this quasar sample, we create a quasar composite spectrum for z > 6.5 quasars and find no significant redshift evolution of quasar broad emission lines and continuum slope, except for a blueshift of the C iv line. Our sample yields a strong broad absorption line quasar fraction of ∼24%, higher than the fractions in lower-redshift quasar samples, although this could be affected by small sample statistics and selection effects.« less