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Long-term profile variability in active galactic nucleus with double-peaked Balmer emission lines

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Long-term profile variability in active galactic nucleus with double-peaked Balmer emission lines

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Título Long-term profile variability in active galactic nucleus with double-peaked Balmer emission lines
Autor Lewis, K.T.
Eracleous, Michael
Storchi-Bergmann, Thaisa
Abstract An increasing number of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) exhibit broad, double-peaked Balmer emission lines, which represent some of the best evidence for the existence of relatively large-scale accretion disks in AGNs. A set of 20 double-peaked emitters have been monitored for nearly a decade in order to observe long-term variations in the profiles of the double-peaked Balmer lines. Variations generally occur on timescales of years, and are attributed to physical changes in the accretion disk. Here we characterize the variability of a subset of seven double-peaked emitters in a model independent way. We find that variability is caused primarily by the presence of one or more discrete “lumps” of excess emission; over a timescale of a year (and sometimes less) these lumps change in amplitude and shape, but the projected velocity of these lumps changes over much longer timescales (several years). We also find that all of the objects exhibit red peaks that are stronger than the blue peak at some epochs and/or blueshifts in the overall profile, contrary to the expectations for a simple, circular accretion disk model, thus emphasizing the need for asymmetries in the accretion disk. Comparisons with two simple models, an elliptical accretion disk and a circular disk with a spiral arm, are unable to reproduce all aspects of the observed variability, although both account for some of the observed behaviors. Three of the seven objects have robust estimates of the black hole masses. For these objects the observed variability timescale is consistent with the expected precession timescale for a spiral arm, but incompatible with that of an elliptical accretion disk.We suggest that with the simple modification of allowing the spiral arm to be fragmented, many of the observed variability patterns could be reproduced.
Contido em The astrophysical journal. Supplement series. Chicago. Vol. 187, no. 2 (Apr. 2010), p. 416-446
Assunto Buracos negros
Discos de acrecao
Galáxias ativas
Nucleo galatico
[en] Accretion, accretion disks
[en] Galaxies: active
[en] Line: profiles
Origem Estrangeiro
Tipo Artigo de periódico
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10183/109054
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