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  1. Abstract

    We present an intensive multiwavelength monitoring campaign of the quasar PG 1302−102 with Swift and the Las Cumbres Observatory network telescopes. Atz∼ 0.3, it tests the limits of the reverberation mapping (RM) technique in probing the accretion disk around a supermassive black hole (SMBH) and extends the parameter space to high masses and high accretion rates. This is also the first time the RM technique has been applied to test disk structures predicted in the SMBH binary model that has been suggested for this source. PG 1302−102 was observed at a ∼daily cadence for ∼9 months in 14 bands spanning from X-ray to UV and optical wavelengths, and it shows moderate to significant levels of variability correlated between wavelengths. We measure the interband time lags, which are consistent with aτλ4/3relation as expected from standard disk reprocessing, albeit with large uncertainties. The disk size implied by the lag spectrum is consistent with the expected disk size for its black hole mass within uncertainties. While the source resembles other reverberation-mapped active galactic nuclei in many respects, and we do not find evidence supporting the prevalent hypothesis that it hosts an SMBH binary, we demonstrate the feasibility of studying SMBH binaries from this novel angle and suggest possibilities for the LSST Deep Drilling Fields.

     
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  2. UV and optical continuum reverberation mapping is a powerful tool for probing the accretion disk and inner broad-line region. However, recent reverberation mapping campaigns in the X-ray, UV, and optical have found lags consistently longer than those expected from the standard disk reprocessing picture. The largest discrepancy to date was recently reported in Mrk 335, where UV/optical lags are up to 12 times longer than expected. Here, we perform a frequency-resolved time lag analysis of Mrk 335, using Gaussian processes to account for irregular sampling. For the first time, we compare the Fourier frequency-resolved lags directly to those computed using the popular interpolated cross-correlation function method applied to both the original and detrended light curves. We show that the anticipated disk reverberation lags are recovered by the Fourier lags when zeroing in on the short-timescale variability. This suggests that a separate variability component is present on long timescales. If this separate component is modeled as reverberation from another region beyond the accretion disk, we constrain a size scale of roughly 15 lt-days from the central black hole. This is consistent with the size of the broad-line region inferred from Hβreverberation lags. We also find tentative evidence for a soft X-ray lag, which we propose may be due to light travel time delays between the hard X-ray corona and distant photoionized gas that dominates the soft X-ray spectrum below 2 keV. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 22, 2024
  3. Abstract

    While the vast majority of tidal disruption events (TDEs) have been identified by wide-field sky surveys in the optical and X-ray bands, recent studies indicate that a considerable fraction of TDEs may be dust obscured and thus preferentially detected in the infrared (IR) wave bands. In this Letter, we present the discovery of a luminous mid-IR nuclear flare (termed WTP14adbjsh), identified in a systematic transient search of archival images from the NEOWISE mid-IR survey. The source reached a peak luminosity ofL≃ 1043erg s−1at 4.6μm in 2015 before fading in the IR with a TDE-likeFt−5/3decline, radiating a total of more than 3 × 1051erg in the last 7 yr. The transient event took place in the nearby galaxy NGC 7392, at a distance of around 42 Mpc; yet, no optical or X-ray flare is detected. We interpret the transient as the nearest TDE candidate detected in the last decade, which was missed at other wavelengths due to dust obscuration, hinting at the existence of TDEs that have been historically overlooked. Unlike most previously detected TDEs, the transient was discovered in a star-forming galaxy, corroborating earlier suggestions that dust obscuration suppresses significantly the detection of TDEs in these environments. Our results demonstrate that the study of IR-detected TDEs is critical in order to obtain a complete understanding of the physics of TDEs and to conclude whether TDEs occur preferentially in a particular class of galaxies.

     
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  4. Abstract

    An intensive reverberation mapping campaign of the Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 817 using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope revealed significant variations in the response of broad UV emission lines to fluctuations in the continuum emission. The response of the prominent UV emission lines changes over an ∼60 day duration, resulting in distinctly different time lags in the various segments of the light curve over the 14 month observing campaign. One-dimensional echo-mapping models fit these variations if a slowly varying background is included for each emission line. These variations are more evident in the Civlight curve, which is the line least affected by intrinsic absorption in Mrk 817 and least blended with neighboring emission lines. We identify five temporal windows with a distinct emission-line response, and measure their corresponding time delays, which range from 2 to 13 days. These temporal windows are plausibly linked to changes in the UV and X-ray obscuration occurring during these same intervals. The shortest time lags occur during periods with diminishing obscuration, whereas the longest lags occur during periods with rising obscuration. We propose that the obscuring outflow shields the broad UV lines from the ionizing continuum. The resulting change in the spectral energy distribution of the ionizing continuum, as seen by clouds at a range of distances from the nucleus, is responsible for the changes in the line response.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  5. Abstract

    The AGN STORM 2 campaign is a large, multiwavelength reverberation mapping project designed to trace out the structure of Mrk 817 from the inner accretion disk to the broad emission line region and out to the dusty torus. As part of this campaign, Swift performed daily monitoring of Mrk 817 for approximately 15 months, obtaining observations in X-rays and six UV/optical filters. The X-ray monitoring shows that Mrk 817 was in a significantly fainter state than in previous observations, with only a brief flare where it reached prior flux levels. The X-ray spectrum is heavily obscured. The UV/optical light curves show significant variability throughout the campaign and are well correlated with one another, but uncorrelated with the X-rays. Combining the Swift UV/optical light curves with Hubble Space Telescope UV continuum light curves, we measure interband continuum lags,τ(λ), that increase with increasing wavelength roughly followingτ(λ) ∝λ4/3, the dependence expected for a geometrically thin, optically thick, centrally illuminated disk. Modeling of the light curves reveals a period at the beginning of the campaign where the response of the continuum is suppressed compared to later in the light curve—the light curves are not simple shifted and scaled versions of each other. The interval of suppressed response corresponds to a period of high UV line and X-ray absorption, and reduced emission line variability amplitudes. We suggest that this indicates a significant contribution to the continuum from the broad-line region gas that sees an absorbed ionizing continuum.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 27, 2024
  6. Abstract

    We report the discovery of ZTF J0127+5258, a compact mass-transferring binary with an orbital period of 13.7 minutes. The system contains a white dwarf accretor, which likely originated as a post–common envelope carbon–oxygen (CO) white dwarf, and a warm donor (Teff,donor= 16,400 ± 1000 K). The donor probably formed during a common envelope phase between the CO white dwarf and an evolving giant that left behind a helium star or white dwarf in a close orbit with the CO white dwarf. We measure gravitational wave–driven orbital inspiral with ∼51σsignificance, which yields a joint constraint on the component masses and mass transfer rate. While the accretion disk in the system is dominated by ionized helium emission, the donor exhibits a mixture of hydrogen and helium absorption lines. Phase-resolved spectroscopy yields a donor radial velocity semiamplitude of 771 ± 27 km s−1, and high-speed photometry reveals that the system is eclipsing. We detect a Chandra X-ray counterpart withLX∼ 3 × 1031erg s−1. Depending on the mass transfer rate, the system will likely either evolve into a stably mass-transferring helium cataclysmic variable, merge to become an R CrB star, or explode as a Type Ia supernova in the next million years. We predict that the Laser Space Interferometer Antenna (LISA) will detect the source with a signal-to-noise ratio of 24 ± 6 after 4 yr of observations. The system is the first LISA-loud mass-transferring binary with an intrinsically luminous donor, a class of sources that provide the opportunity to leverage the synergy between optical and infrared time domain surveys, X-ray facilities, and gravitational-wave observatories to probe general relativity, accretion physics, and binary evolution.

     
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  7. Abstract

    We fit the UV/optical lightcurves of the Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 817 to produce maps of the accretion disk temperature fluctuationsδTresolved in time and radius. TheδTmaps are dominated by coherent radial structures that move slowly (vc) inward and outward, which conflicts with the idea that disk variability is driven only by reverberation. Instead, these slow-moving temperature fluctuations are likely due to variability intrinsic to the disk. We test how modifying the input lightcurves by smoothing and subtracting them changes the resultingδTmaps and find that most of the temperature fluctuations exist over relatively long timescales (hundreds of days). We show how detrending active galactic nucleus (AGN) lightcurves can be used to separate the flux variations driven by the slow-moving temperature fluctuations from those driven by reverberation. We also simulate contamination of the continuum emission from the disk by continuum emission from the broad-line region (BLR), which is expected to have spectral features localized in wavelength, such as the Balmer break contaminating theUband. We find that a disk with a smooth temperature profile cannot produce a signal localized in wavelength and that any BLR contamination should appear as residuals in our model lightcurves. Given the observed residuals, we estimate that only ∼20% of the variable flux in theUandulightcurves can be due to BLR contamination. Finally, we discus how these maps not only describe the data but can make predictions about other aspects of AGN variability.

     
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  8. Abstract The AGN STORM 2 Collaboration targeted the Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 817 for a year-long multiwavelength, coordinated reverberation mapping campaign including Hubble Space Telescope, Swift, XMM-Newton, NICER, and ground-based observatories. Early observations with NICER and XMM revealed an X-ray state 10 times fainter than historical observations, consistent with the presence of a new dust-free, ionized obscurer. The following analysis of NICER spectra attributes variability in the observed X-ray flux to changes in both the column density of the obscurer by at least one order of magnitude ( N H ranges from 2.85 − 0.33 + 0.48 × 10 22 cm − 2 to 25.6 − 3.5 + 3.0 × 10 22 cm − 2 ) and the intrinsic continuum brightness (the unobscured flux ranges from 10 −11.8 to 10 −10.5 erg s −1 cm −2 ). While the X-ray flux generally remains in a faint state, there is one large flare during which Mrk 817 returns to its historical mean flux. The obscuring gas is still present at lower column density during the flare, but it also becomes highly ionized, increasing its transparency. Correlation between the column density of the X-ray obscurer and the strength of UV broad absorption lines suggests that the X-ray and UV continua are both affected by the same obscuration, consistent with a clumpy disk wind launched from the inner broad-line region. 
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  9. null (Ed.)