Discovery of 21 New Changing-look AGNs in the Northern Sky

Qian Yang, Xue Bing Wu, Xiaohui Fan, Linhua Jiang, Ian McGreer, Jinyi Shangguan, Su Yao, Bingquan Wang, Ravi Joshi, Richard Green, Feige Wang, Xiaotong Feng, Yuming Fu, Jinyi Yang, Yuanqi Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


The rare case of changing-look (CL) active galactic nuclei (AGNs), with the appearance or disappearance of broad Balmer emission lines within a few years, challenges our understanding of the AGN unified model. We present a sample of 21 new CL AGNs at 0.08 < z < 0.58, which doubles the number of such objects known to date. These new CL AGNs were discovered in various ways, from (1) repeat spectra in the SDSS, (2) repeat spectra in the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) and SDSS, and (3) photometric variability and new spectroscopic observations. We use the photometric data from surveys, including the SDSS imaging survey, the Pan-STARRS1, the DESI Legacy imaging survey, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey, and the Palomar Transient Factory. The estimated upper limits of the transition timescale of the CL AGNs in this sample spans from 0.9 to 13 years in the rest-frame. The continuum flux in the optical and mid-infrared becomes brighter when the CL AGNs turn on, or vice versa. Variations of more than 0.2 mag in the W1 band were detected in 15 CL AGNs during the transition. The optical and mid-infrared variability is not consistent with the scenario of variable obscuration in 10 CL AGNs at more than the 3σ confidence level. We confirm a bluer-when-brighter trend in the optical. However, the mid-infrared WISE colors W1-W2 become redder when the objects become brighter in the W1 band, possibly due to a stronger hot dust contribution in the W2 band when the AGN activity becomes stronger. The physical mechanism of type transition is important for understanding the evolution of AGNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • black hole physics
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: nuclei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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