Monday, July 22, 2013

1307.5253 (Brandon C. Kelly et al.)

Quasar Black Hole Mass Estimates in the Era of Time Domain Astronomy    [PDF]

Brandon C. Kelly, Tommaso Treu, Matthew Malkan, Anna Pancoast, Jong-Hak Woo
We investigate the dependence of the normalization of the high-frequency part of the X-ray and optical power spectral densities (PSD) on black hole mass for a sample of 39 active galactic nuclei (AGN) with black hole masses estimated from reverberation mapping or dynamical modeling. We obtained new Swift observations of PG 1426+015, which has the largest estimated black hole mass of the AGN in our sample. We develop a novel statistical method to estimate the PSD from a lightcurve of photon counts with arbitrary sampling, eliminating the need to bin a lightcurve to achieve Gaussian statistics, and we use this technique to estimate the X-ray variability parameters for the faint AGN in our sample. We find that the normalization of the high-frequency X-ray PSD is inversely proportional to black hole mass. We discuss how to use this scaling relationship to obtain black hole mass estimates from the short time-scale X-ray variability amplitude with precision ~ 0.38 dex. The amplitude of optical variability on time scales of days is also anti-correlated with black hole mass, but with larger scatter. Instead, the optical variability amplitude exhibits the strongest anti-correlation with luminosity. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our results for estimating black hole mass from the amplitude of AGN variability.
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