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Changing-look Quasar Candidates: First Results from Follow-up Spectroscopy of Highly Optically Variable Quasars

MacLeod, Chelsea L. and Green, Paul J. and Anderson, Scott F. and Bruce, Alastair and Eracleous, Michael and Graham, Matthew and Homan, David and Lawrence, Andy and LeBleu, Amy and Ross, Nicholas P. and Ruan, John J. and Runnoe, Jessie and Stern, Daniel and Burgett, William and Chambers, Kenneth C. and Kaiser, Nick and Magnier, Eugene and Metcalfe, Nigel (2019) Changing-look Quasar Candidates: First Results from Follow-up Spectroscopy of Highly Optically Variable Quasars. Astrophysical Journal, 874 (1). Art. No. 8. ISSN 1538-4357. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190315-085851951

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Abstract

Active galactic nuclei (AGNs) that show strong rest-frame optical/UV variability in their blue continuum and broad line emission are classified as changing-look AGN, or at higher luminosities, changing-look quasars (CLQs). These surprisingly large and sometimes rapid transitions challenge accepted models of quasar physics and duty cycles, offer several new avenues for study of quasar host galaxies, and open a wider interpretation of the cause of differences between broad and narrow-line AGN. To better characterize extreme quasar variability, we present follow-up spectroscopy as part of a comprehensive search for CLQs across the full Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) footprint using spectroscopically confirmed quasars from the SDSS DR7 catalog. Our primary selection requires large-amplitude (|Δg| > 1 mag, |Δr| > 0.5 mag) variability over any of the available time baselines probed by the SDSS and Pan-STARRS 1 surveys. We employ photometry from the Catalina Sky Survey to verify variability behavior in CLQ candidates where available, and confirm CLQs using optical spectroscopy from the William Herschel, MMT, Magellan, and Palomar telescopes. For our adopted signal-to-noise ratio threshold on variability of broad Hβ emission, we find 17 new CLQs, yielding a confirmation rate of 20%. These candidates are at lower Eddington ratio relative to the overall quasar population, which supports a disk-wind model for the broad line region. Based on our sample, the CLQ fraction increases from 10% to roughly half as the continuum flux ratio between repeat spectra at 3420 Å increases from 1.5 to 6. We release a catalog of more than 200 highly variable candidates to facilitate future CLQ searches.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab05e2DOIArticle
https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.00087arXivDiscussion Paper
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Green, Paul J.0000-0002-8179-9445
Eracleous, Michael0000-0002-3719-940X
Graham, Matthew0000-0002-3168-0139
Homan, David0000-0002-4431-0890
Ross, Nicholas P.0000-0003-1830-6473
Ruan, John J.0000-0001-8665-5523
Runnoe, Jessie0000-0001-8557-2822
Stern, Daniel0000-0003-2686-9241
Burgett, William0000-0003-4401-9582
Chambers, Kenneth C.0000-0001-6965-7789
Kaiser, Nick0000-0001-6511-4306
Magnier, Eugene0000-0002-7965-2815
Metcalfe, Nigel0000-0001-9034-4402
Additional Information:© 2019 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2018 September 28; revised 2019 January 22; accepted 2019 February 6; published 2019 March 15. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant Nos. AST-1715763 and AST-1715121. The work of D.S. was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. We thank Marco Lam and Nigel Hambly for assistance with the PS1 DVO database hosted at Edinburgh. We thank Peter Blanchard for assistance in carrying out Blue Channel observations. C.L.M. would like to acknowledge Zeljko Ivezic, Martin Elvis, and Fabrizio Nicastro for useful discussions regarding the Eddington ratio and disk-wind model. We thank the anonymous referee for their very helpful and thorough comments. Funding for the SDSS and SDSS-II has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The SDSS website is http://www.sdss.org/. The SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions. The Participating Institutions are the American Museum of Natural History, Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, the University of Basel, the University of Cambridge, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Chicago, Drexel University, Fermilab, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, the Korean Scientist Group, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (LAMOST), Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State University, Ohio State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington. Funding for SDSS-III has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The SDSS-III website is http://www.sdss3.org/. SDSS-III is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS-III Collaboration, including the University of Arizona, the Brazilian Participation Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Florida, the French Participation Group, the German Participation Group, Harvard University, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Michigan State/Notre Dame/JINA Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, New Mexico State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the Spanish Participation Group, the University of Tokyo, the University of Utah, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, the University of Washington, and Yale University. The Pan-STARRS 1 Surveys (PS1) have been made possible through contributions of the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, Queen's University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation under grant No. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, and Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE). The CSS survey is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant No. NNG05GF22G issued through the Science Mission Directorate Near-Earth Objects Observations Program. The CRTS survey is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants AST-0909182 and AST-1313422. Facilities: SDSS - , Pan-STARRS - , WHT - , MMT - , Magellan - , SO:Schmidt, SO:1.5m, SO:1m - , Palomar - . Software: pyDIS, QSfit, pyRAF, MySQL/CASJobs.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFAST-1715763
NSFAST-1715121
NASA/JPL/CaltechUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Participating InstitutionsUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
NASAUNSPECIFIED
Japanese MonbukagakushoUNSPECIFIED
Max Planck SocietyUNSPECIFIED
Higher Education Funding Council for EnglandUNSPECIFIED
NASANNX08AR22G
NSFAST-1238877
University of MarylandUNSPECIFIED
Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE)UNSPECIFIED
NASANNG05GF22G
NSFAST-0909182
NSFAST-1313422
Subject Keywords:accretion, accretion disks – catalogs – quasars: emission lines
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190315-085851951
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190315-085851951
Official Citation:Chelsea L. MacLeod et al 2019 ApJ 874 8
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:93858
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Mar 2019 17:02
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 20:58

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