The smarts multi-epoch optical spectroscopy atlas (SAMOSA): An analysis of emission line variability in southern hemisphere Fermi Blazars

Jedidah C. Isler, C. M. Urry, C. Bailyn, P. S. Smith, P. Coppi, M. Brady, E. Macpherson, I. Hasan, M. Buxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present multi-epoch optical spectroscopy of seven southern Fermi-monitored blazars from 2008 to 2013 using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), with supplemental spectroscopy and polarization data from the Steward Observatory. We find that the emission lines are much less variable than the continuum; four of seven blazars had no detectable emission line variability over the 5 yr observation period. This is consistent with photoionization primarily by an accretion disk, allowing us to use the lines as a probe of disk activity. Comparing optical emission line flux with Fermi γ-ray flux and optical polarized flux, we investigate whether relativistic jet variability is related to the accretion flow. In general, we see no such dependence, suggesting that the jet variability is likely caused by internal processes like turbulence or shock acceleration rather than a variable accretion rate. However, three sources showed statistically significant emission line flares in close temporal proximity to very large Fermi γ-ray flares. While we do not have sufficient emission line data to quantitatively assess their correlation with the γ-ray flux, it appears that in some cases the jet might provide additional photoionizing flux to the broad-line region (BLR), which implies that some γ-rays are produced within the BLR, at least for these large flares.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume804
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • Lacertae objects: individual (PKS 0454-234 3C 454.3 PKS 1510-089)
  • quasars: emission lines
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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