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Creators/Authors contains: "Runnoe, Jessie C."

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  1. Abstract

    Periodic signatures in time-domain observations of quasars have been used to search for binary supermassive black holes (SMBHs). These searches, across existing time-domain surveys, have produced several hundred candidates. The general stochastic variability of quasars, however, can masquerade as a false-positive periodic signal, especially when monitoring cadence and duration are limited. In this work, we predict the detectability of binary SMBHs in the upcoming Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). We apply computationally inexpensive sinusoidal curve fits to millions of simulated LSST Deep Drilling Field light curves of both single, isolated quasars and binary quasars. The period and phase of simulated binary signals can generally be disentangled from quasar variability. Binary amplitude is overestimated and poorly recovered for two-thirds of potential binaries due to quasar accretion variability. Quasars with strong intrinsic variability can obscure a binary signal too much for recovery. We also find that the most luminous quasars mimic current binary candidate light curves and their properties: The false-positive rates are 60% for these quasars. The reliable recovery of binary period and phase for a wide range of input binary LSST light curves is promising for multi-messenger characterization of binary SMBHs. However, pure electromagnetic detections of binaries using photometric periodicity with amplitude greater than 0.1 mag will result in samples that are overwhelmed by false positives. This paper represents an important and computationally inexpensive way forward for understanding the true and false-positive rates for binary candidates identified by Rubin.

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  2. Abstract

    Quasars atz≳ 1 most often have redshifts measured from rest-frame ultraviolet emission lines. One of the most common such lines, Civλ1549, shows blueshifts up to ≈5000 km s−1and in rare cases even higher. This blueshifting results in highly uncertain redshifts when compared to redshift determinations from rest-frame optical emission lines, e.g., from the narrow [Oiii]λ5007 feature. We present spectroscopic measurements for 260 sources at 1.55 ≲z≲ 3.50 having −28.0 ≲Mi≲ − 30.0 mag from the Gemini Near Infrared Spectrograph–Distant Quasar Survey (GNIRS-DQS) catalog, augmenting the previous iteration, which contained 226 of the 260 sources whose measurements are improved upon in this work. We obtain reliable systemic redshifts based on [Oiii]λ5007 for a subset of 121 sources, which we use to calibrate prescriptions for correcting UV-based redshifts. These prescriptions are based on a regression analysis involving Civfull-width-at-half-maximum intensity and equivalent width, along with the UV continuum luminosity at a rest-frame wavelength of 1350 Å. Applying these corrections can improve the accuracy and the precision in the Civ-based redshift by up to ∼850 km s−1and ∼150 km s−1, respectively, which correspond to ∼8.5 and ∼1.5 Mpc in comoving distance atz= 2.5. Our prescriptions also improve the accuracy of the best available multifeature redshift determination algorithm by ∼100 km s−1, indicating that the spectroscopic properties of the Civemission line can provide robust redshift estimates for high-redshift quasars. We discuss the prospects of our prescriptions for cosmological and quasar studies utilizing upcoming large spectroscopic surveys.

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  3. Abstract

    Weak emission-line quasars (WLQs) are a subset of type 1 quasars that exhibit extremely weak Lyα+ Nvλ1240 and/or Civλ1549 emission lines. We investigate the relationship between emission-line properties and accretion rate for a sample of 230 “ordinary” type 1 quasars and 18 WLQs atz< 0.5 and 1.5 <z< 3.5 that have rest-frame ultraviolet and optical spectral measurements. We apply a correction to the Hβ-based black hole mass (MBH) estimates of these quasars using the strength of the optical Feiiemission. We confirm previous findings that WLQs’MBHvalues are overestimated by up to an order of magnitude using the traditional broad-emission-line region size–luminosity relation. With thisMBHcorrection, we find a significant correlation between Hβ-based Eddington luminosity ratios and a combination of the rest-frame Civequivalent width and Civblueshift with respect to the systemic redshift. This correlation holds for both ordinary quasars and WLQs, which suggests that the two-dimensional Civparameter space can serve as an indicator of accretion rate in all type 1 quasars across a wide range of spectral properties.

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  5. Abstract

    We present a high-cadence multiepoch analysis of dramatic variability of three broad emission lines (Mgii, Hβ, and Hα) in the spectra of the luminous quasar (λLλ(5100 Å) = 4.7 × 1044erg s−1) SDSS J141041.25+531849.0 atz= 0.359 with 127 spectroscopic epochs over nine years of monitoring (2013–2022). We observe anticorrelations between the broad emission-line widths and flux in all three emission lines, indicating that all three broad emission lines “breathe” in response to stochastic continuum variations. We also observe dramatic radial velocity shifts in all three broad emission lines, ranging from Δv∼ 400 km s−1to ∼800 km s−1, that vary over the course of the monitoring period. Our preferred explanation for the broad-line variability is complex kinematics in the gas in the broad-line region. We suggest a model for the broad-line variability that includes a combination of gas inflow with a radial gradient, an azimuthal asymmetry (e.g., a hot spot), superimposed on the stochastic flux-driven changes to the optimal emission region (“line breathing”). Similar instances of line-profile variability due to complex gas kinematics around quasars are likely to represent an important source of false positives in radial velocity searches for binary black holes, which typically lack the kind of high-cadence data we analyze here. The long-duration, wide-field, and many-epoch spectroscopic monitoring of SDSS-V BHM-RM provides an excellent opportunity for identifying and characterizing broad emission-line variability, and the inferred nature of the inner gas environment, of luminous quasars.

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  7. Abstract The NANOGrav 15 yr data set shows evidence for the presence of a low-frequency gravitational-wave background (GWB). While many physical processes can source such low-frequency gravitational waves, here we analyze the signal as coming from a population of supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries distributed throughout the Universe. We show that astrophysically motivated models of SMBH binary populations are able to reproduce both the amplitude and shape of the observed low-frequency gravitational-wave spectrum. While multiple model variations are able to reproduce the GWB spectrum at our current measurement precision, our results highlight the importance of accurately modeling binary evolution for producing realistic GWB spectra. Additionally, while reasonable parameters are able to reproduce the 15 yr observations, the implied GWB amplitude necessitates either a large number of parameters to be at the edges of expected values or a small number of parameters to be notably different from standard expectations. While we are not yet able to definitively establish the origin of the inferred GWB signal, the consistency of the signal with astrophysical expectations offers a tantalizing prospect for confirming that SMBH binaries are able to form, reach subparsec separations, and eventually coalesce. As the significance grows over time, higher-order features of the GWB spectrum will definitively determine the nature of the GWB and allow for novel constraints on SMBH populations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024

    Velocity offsets in the broad Balmer lines of quasars and their temporal variations serve as indirect evidence for bound supermassive black hole binaries (SBHBs) at sub-parsec separations. In this work, we test the SBHB hypothesis for 14 quasars with double-peaked broad emission lines using their long-term (14–41 yr) radial velocity curves. We improve on the previous work by (i) using elliptical instead of circular orbits for the SBHBs, (ii) adopting a statistical model for radial velocity jitter, (iii) employing a Markov chain Monte Carlo method to explore the orbital parameter space efficiently and build posterior distributions of physical parameters, and (iv) incorporating new observations. We determine empirically that jitter comprises approximately Gaussian distributed fluctuations about the smooth radial velocity curves that are larger than the measurement errors by factors of a few. We initially treat jitter by enlarging the effective error bars and then verify this approach via a variety of Gaussian process models for it. We find lower mass limits for the hypothesized SBHBs in the range 108–1011 M⊙. For seven objects, the SBHB scenario appears unlikely based on goodness-of-fit tests. For two additional objects, the minimum SBHB masses are unreasonably large (>1010 M⊙), strongly disfavouring the SBHB scenario. Using constraints on the orbital inclination angle (which requires some assumptions) makes the minimum masses of four more objects unreasonably large. We also cite physical and observational arguments against the SBHB hypothesis for nine objects. We conclude that the SBHB explanation is not the favoured explanation of double-peaked broad emission lines.

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