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  1. Abstract

    In recent years, continuum-reverberation mapping involving high-cadence UV/optical monitoring campaigns of nearby active galactic nuclei has been used to infer the size of their accretion disks. One of the main results from these campaigns has been that in many cases the accretion disks appear too large, by a factor of 2–3, compared to standard models. Part of this may be due to diffuse continuum emission from the broad-line region (BLR), which is indicated by excess lags around the Balmer jump. Standard cross-correlation lag-analysis techniques are usually used to just recover the peak or centroid lag and cannot easily distinguish between reprocessing from the disk and BLR. However, frequency-resolved lag analysis, where the lag is determined at each Fourier frequency, has the potential to separate out reprocessing on different size scales. Here we present simulations to demonstrate the potential of this method and then apply a maximum-likelihood approach to determine frequency-resolved lags in NGC 5548. We find that the lags in NGC 5548 generally decrease smoothly with increasing frequency, and are not easily described by accretion-disk reprocessing alone. The standard cross-correlation lags are consistent with lags at frequencies lower than 0.1 day−1, indicating they are dominated from reprocessing at sizemore »scales greater than ∼10 light days. A combination of a more distant reprocessor, consistent with the BLR, along with a standard-sized accretion disk is more consistent with the observed lags than a larger disk alone.

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    We have measured the wavelength-dependent lags between the X-ray, ultraviolet, and optical bands in the high-accretion rate ($L/L_{\rm Edd}\approx 40{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) active galactic nucleus (AGN) Mrk 110 during two intensive monitoring campaigns in February and September 2019. After including the 2017 data published by Vincentelli et al., we divided the observations into three intervals with different X-ray luminosities. The first interval has the lowest X-ray luminosity and did not exhibit the U-band excess positive lag, or the X-ray excess negative lag that is seen in most AGNs. However, these excess lags are seen in the two subsequent intervals of higher X-ray luminosity. Although the data are limited, the excess lags appear to scale with X-ray luminosity. Our modelling shows that lags expected from reprocessing of X-rays by the accretion disc vary hardly at all with increasing luminosity. Therefore, as the U-band excess almost certainly arises from Balmer-continuum emission from the broad-line region (BLR), we attribute these lag changes to changes in the contribution from the BLR. The change is easily explained by the usual increase in the inner radius of the BLR with increasing ionizing luminosity.

  3. 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
  4. Abstract We present the first results from the ongoing, intensive, multiwavelength monitoring program of the luminous Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 817. While this active galactic nucleus was, in part, selected for its historically unobscured nature, we discovered that the X-ray spectrum is highly absorbed, and there are new blueshifted, broad, and narrow UV absorption lines, which suggest that a dust-free, ionized obscurer located at the inner broad-line region partially covers the central source. Despite the obscuration, we measure UV and optical continuum reverberation lags consistent with a centrally illuminated Shakura–Sunyaev thin accretion disk, and measure reverberation lags associated with the optical broad-line region, as expected. However, in the first 55 days of the campaign, when the obscuration was becoming most extreme, we observe a de-coupling of the UV continuum and the UV broad emission-line variability. The correlation recovered in the next 42 days of the campaign, as Mrk 817 entered a less obscured state. The short C iv and Ly α lags suggest that the accretion disk extends beyond the UV broad-line region.
  5. ABSTRACT We present the first intensive continuum reverberation mapping study of the high accretion-rate Seyfert galaxy Mrk 110. The source was monitored almost daily for more than 200 d with the Swift X-ray and ultraviolet (UV)/optical telescopes, supported by ground-based observations from Las Cumbres Observatory, the Liverpool Telescope, and the Zowada Observatory, thus extending the wavelength coverage to 9100 Å. Mrk 110 was found to be significantly variable at all wavebands. Analysis of the intraband lags reveals two different behaviours, depending on the time-scale. On time-scales shorter than 10 d the lags, relative to the shortest UV waveband (∼1928 Å), increase with increasing wavelength up to a maximum of ∼2 d lag for the longest waveband (∼9100 Å), consistent with the expectation from disc reverberation. On longer time-scales, however, the g-band lags the Swift BAT hard X-rays by ∼10 d, with the z-band lagging the g-band by a similar amount, which cannot be explained in terms of simple reprocessing from the accretion disc. We interpret this result as an interplay between the emission from the accretion disc and diffuse continuum radiation from the broad-line region.
  6. ABSTRACT We present results of time-series analysis of the first year of the Fairall 9 intensive disc-reverberation campaign. We used Swift and the Las Cumbres Observatory global telescope network to continuously monitor Fairall 9 from X-rays to near-infrared at a daily to subdaily cadence. The cross-correlation function between bands provides evidence for a lag spectrum consistent with the τ ∝ λ4/3 scaling expected for an optically thick, geometrically thin blackbody accretion disc. Decomposing the flux into constant and variable components, the variable component’s spectral energy distribution is slightly steeper than the standard accretion disc prediction. We find evidence at the Balmer edge in both the lag and flux spectra for an additional bound-free continuum contribution that may arise from reprocessing in the broad-line region. The inferred driving light curve suggests two distinct components, a rapidly variable (<4 d) component arising from X-ray reprocessing, and a more slowly varying (>100 d) component with an opposite lag to the reverberation signal.
  7. ABSTRACT Using a month-long X-ray light curve from RXTE/PCA and 1.5 month-long UV continuum light curves from IUE spectra in 1220–1970 Å, we performed a detailed time-lag study of the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 7469. Our cross-correlation analysis confirms previous results showing that the X-rays are delayed relative to the UV continuum at 1315 Å by 3.49 ± 0.22 d, which is possibly caused by either propagating fluctuation or variable Comptonization. However, if variations slower than 5 d are removed from the X-ray light curve, the UV variations then lag behind the X-ray variations by 0.37 ± 0.14 d, consistent with reprocessing of the X-rays by a surrounding accretion disc. A very similar reverberation delay is observed between Swift/XRT X-ray and Swift/UVOT UVW2, U light curves. Continuum light curves extracted from the Swift/GRISM spectra show delays with respect to X-rays consistent with reverberation. Separating the UV continuum variations faster and slower than 5 d, the slow variations at 1825 Å lag those at 1315 Å by 0.29 ± 0.06 d, while the fast variations are coincident (0.04 ± 0.12 d). The UV/optical continuum reverberation lag from IUE, Swift, and other optical telescopes at different wavelengths are consistent with the relationship: τ ∝ λ4/3, predicted for the standard accretion disc theory while the best-fitting X-ray delay from RXTE and Swift/XRT shows a negativemore »X-ray offset of ∼0.38 d from the standard disc delay prediction.« less
  8. ABSTRACT We broadly explore the effects of systematic errors on reverberation mapping lag uncertainty estimates from javelin and the interpolated cross-correlation function (ICCF) method. We focus on simulated light curves from random realizations of the light curves of five intensively monitored AGNs. Both methods generally work well even in the presence of systematic errors, although javelin generally provides better error estimates. Poorly estimated light-curve uncertainties have less effect on the ICCF method because, unlike javelin , it does not explicitly assume Gaussian statistics. Neither method is sensitive to changes in the stochastic process driving the continuum or the transfer function relating the line light curve to the continuum. The only systematic error we considered that causes significant problems is if the line light curve is not a smoothed and shifted version of the continuum light curve but instead contains some additional sources of variability.