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The Paschen Jump as a Diagnostic of the Diffuse Nebular Continuum Emission in Active Galactic Nuclei*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 »Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
The Lick AGN Monitoring Project 2016: Dynamical Modeling of Velocity-resolved Hβ Lags in Luminous Seyfert GalaxiesAbstract We have modeled the velocity-resolved reverberation response of the H β broad emission line in nine Seyfert 1 galaxies from the Lick Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) Monitoring Project 2016 sample, drawing inferences on the geometry and structure of the low-ionization broad-line region (BLR) and the mass of the central supermassive black hole. Overall, we find that the H β BLR is generally a thick disk viewed at low to moderate inclination angles. We combine our sample with prior studies and investigate line-profile shape dependence, such as log 10 ( FWHM / σ ) , on BLR structure and kinematics and search for any BLR luminosity-dependent trends. We find marginal evidence for an anticorrelation between the profile shape of the broad H β emission line and the Eddington ratio, when using the rms spectrum. However, we do not find any luminosity-dependent trends, and conclude that AGNs have diverse BLR structure and kinematics, consistent with the hypothesis of transient AGN/BLR conditions rather than systematic trends.Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
We carried out spectroscopic monitoring of 21 low-redshift Seyfert 1 galaxies using the Kast double spectrograph on the 3 m Shane telescope at Lick Observatory from 2016 April to 2017 May. Targeting active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with luminosities of
λ L λ(5100 Å) ≈ 1044erg s−1and predicted H βlags of ∼20–30 days or black hole masses of 107–108.5 M⊙, our campaign probes luminosity-dependent trends in broad-line region (BLR) structure and dynamics as well as to improve calibrations for single-epoch estimates of quasar black hole masses. Here we present the first results from the campaign, including H βemission-line light curves, integrated H βlag times (8–30 days) measured against V-band continuum light curves, velocity-resolved reverberation lags, line widths of the broad H βcomponents, and virial black hole mass estimates (107.1–108.1 M⊙). Our results add significantly to the number of existing velocity-resolved lag measurements and reveal a diversity of BLR gas kinematics at moderately high AGN luminosities. AGN continuum luminosity appears not to be correlated with the type of kinematics that its BLR gas may exhibit. Follow-up direct modeling of this data set will elucidate the detailed kinematics and provide robust dynamical black hole masses for several objects in this sample.
Accretion disks around supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei produce continuum radiation at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths. Physical processes in the accretion flow lead to stochastic variability of this emission on a wide range of time scales. We measured the optical continuum variability observed in 67 active galactic nuclei and the characteristic time scale at which the variability power spectrum flattens. We found a correlation between this time scale and the black hole mass extending over the entire mass range of supermassive black holes. This time scale is consistent with the expected thermal time scale at the ultraviolet-emitting radius in standard accretion disk theory. Accreting white dwarfs lie close to this correlation, suggesting a common process for all accretion disks.