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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  2. The corona is an integral component of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) which produces the bulk of the X-ray emission above 1-2 keV. However, many of its physical properties and the mechanisms powering this emission remain a mystery. In particular, the temperature of the coronal plasma has been difficult to constrain for large samples of AGNs, as constraints require high-quality broadband X-ray spectral coverage extending above 10 keV in order to measure the high-energy cutoff, which provides constraints on the combination of coronal optical depth and temperature. We present constraints on the coronal temperature for a large sample of Seyfert 1 AGNs selected from the Swift/BAT survey using high-quality hard X-ray data from the NuSTAR observatory combined with simultaneous soft X-ray data from Swift/XRT or XMM-Newton. When applying a physically motivated, nonrelativistic disk-reflection model to the X-ray spectra, we find a mean coronal temperature kT e = 84 ± 9 keV. We find no significant correlation between the coronal cutoff energy and accretion parameters such as the Eddington ratio and black hole mass. We also do not find a statistically significant correlation between the X-ray photon index, Γ, and Eddington ratio. This calls into question the use of such relations tomore »infer properties of supermassive black hole systems.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  3. Abstract We present the active galactic nucleus (AGN) catalog and optical spectroscopy for the second data release of the Swift BAT AGN Spectroscopic Survey (BASS DR2). With this DR2 release we provide 1449 optical spectra, of which 1182 are released for the first time, for the 858 hard-X-ray-selected AGNs in the Swift BAT 70-month sample. The majority of the spectra (801/1449, 55%) are newly obtained from Very Large Telescope (VLT)/X-shooter or Palomar/Doublespec. Many of the spectra have both higher resolution ( R > 2500, N ∼ 450) and/or very wide wavelength coverage (3200–10000 Å, N ∼ 600) that are important for a variety of AGN and host galaxy studies. We include newly revised AGN counterparts for the full sample and review important issues for population studies, with 47 AGN redshifts determined for the first time and 790 black hole mass and accretion rate estimates. This release is spectroscopically complete for all AGNs (100%, 858/858), with 99.8% having redshift measurements (857/858) and 96% completion in black hole mass estimates of unbeamed AGNs (722/752). This AGN sample represents a unique census of the brightest hard-X-ray-selected AGNs in the sky, spanning many orders of magnitude in Eddington ratio ( L / L Eddmore »= 10 −5 –100), black hole mass ( M BH = 10 5 –10 10 M ⊙ ), and AGN bolometric luminosity ( L bol = 10 40 –10 47 erg s −1 ).« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  4. Abstract We present observations of the extremely luminous but ambiguous nuclear transient (ANT) ASASSN-17jz, spanning roughly 1200 days of the object’s evolution. ASASSN-17jz was discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) in the galaxy SDSS J171955.84+414049.4 on UT 2017 July 27 at a redshift of z = 0.1641. The transient peaked at an absolute B -band magnitude of M B ,peak = −22.81, corresponding to a bolometric luminosity of L bol,peak = 8.3 × 10 44 erg s −1 , and exhibited late-time ultraviolet emission that was still ongoing in our latest observations. Integrating the full light curve gives a total emitted energy of E tot = (1.36 ±0.08) × 10 52 erg, with (0.80 ± 0.02) × 10 52 erg of this emitted within 200 days of peak light. This late-time ultraviolet emission is accompanied by increasing X-ray emission that becomes softer as it brightens. ASASSN-17jz exhibited a large number of spectral emission lines most commonly seen in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with little evidence of evolution. It also showed transient Balmer features, which became fainter and broader over time, and are still being detected >1000 days after peak brightness. We consider various physical scenarios for themore »origin of the transient, including supernovae (SNe), tidal disruption events, AGN outbursts, and ANTs. We find that the most likely explanation is that ASASSN-17jz was a SN IIn occurring in or near the disk of an existing AGN, and that the late-time emission is caused by the AGN transitioning to a more active state.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  5. ABSTRACT We report on three redshift z > 2 quasars with dramatic changes in their C iv emission lines, the first sample of changing-look quasars (CLQs) at high redshift. This is also the first time the changing-look behaviour has been seen in a high-ionization emission line. SDSS J1205+3422, J1638+2827, and J2228 + 2201 show interesting behaviour in their observed optical light curves, and subsequent spectroscopy shows significant changes in the C iv broad emission line, with both line collapse and emergence being displayed on rest-frame time-scales of ∼240–1640 d. These are rapid changes, especially when considering virial black hole mass estimates of MBH > 109M⊙ for all three quasars. Continuum and emission line measurements from the three quasars show changes in the continuum-equivalent width plane with the CLQs seen to be on the edge of the full population distribution, and showing indications of an intrinsic Baldwin effect. We put these observations in context with recent state-change models, and note that even in their observed low-state, the C iv CLQs are generally above ∼5 per cent in Eddington luminosity.
  6. ABSTRACT The bright quasar PG1302-102 has been identified as a candidate supermassive black hole binary from its near-sinusoidal optical variability. While the significance of its optical periodicity has been debated due to the stochastic variability of quasars, its multiwavelength variability in the ultraviolet (UV) and optical bands is consistent with relativistic Doppler boost caused by the orbital motion in a binary. However, this conclusion was based previously on sparse UV data that were not taken simultaneously with the optical data. Here, we report simultaneous follow-up observations of PG1302-102 with the Ultraviolet Optical Telescope on the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory in six optical + UV bands. The additional nine Swift observations produce light curves roughly consistent with the trend under the Doppler boost hypothesis, which predicts that UV variability should track the optical, but with a ∼2.2 times higher amplitude. We perform a statistical analysis to quantitatively test this hypothesis. We find that the data are consistent with the Doppler boost hypothesis when we compare the the amplitudes in optical B-band and UV light curves. However, the ratio of UV to V-band variability is larger than expected and is consistent with the Doppler model, only if either the UV/optical spectral slopes vary,more »the stochastic variability makes a large contribution in the UV, or the sparse new optical data underestimate the true optical variability. We have evidence for the latter from comparison with the optical light curve from All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. Additionally, the simultaneous analysis of all four bands strongly disfavours the Doppler boost model whenever Swift V band is involved. Additional, simultaneous optical + UV observations tracing out another cycle of the 5.2-yr proposed periodicity should lead to a definitive conclusion.« less