STRUCTURE FUNCTION ANALYSIS OF LONG-TERM QUASAR VARIABILITY

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In our second paper on long-term quasar variability, we employ a much larger database of quasars than in de Vries, Becker & White. This expanded sample, containing 35,165 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 2, and 6,413 additional quasars in the same area of the sky taken from the 2dF QSO Redshift Survey, allows us to significantly improve on our earlier conclusions. As before, all the historic quasar photometry has been calibrated onto the SDSS scale by using large numbers of calibration stars around each quasar position. We find the following: (1) the outbursts have an asymmetric ... continued below

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page(s) pp. 615; PDF-FILE: 18 ; SIZE: 1.1 MBYTES

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de Vries, W; Becker, R; White, R & Loomis, C November 15, 2004.

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In our second paper on long-term quasar variability, we employ a much larger database of quasars than in de Vries, Becker & White. This expanded sample, containing 35,165 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 2, and 6,413 additional quasars in the same area of the sky taken from the 2dF QSO Redshift Survey, allows us to significantly improve on our earlier conclusions. As before, all the historic quasar photometry has been calibrated onto the SDSS scale by using large numbers of calibration stars around each quasar position. We find the following: (1) the outbursts have an asymmetric light-curve profile, with a fast-rise, slow-decline shape; this argues against a scenario in which micro-lensing events along the line-of-sight to the quasars are dominating the long-term variations in quasars; (2) there is no turnover in the Structure Function of the quasars up to time-scales of {approx}40 years, and the increase in variability with increasing time-lags is monotonic and constant; and consequently, (3) there is not a single preferred characteristic outburst time-scale for the quasars, but most likely a continuum of outburst time-scales, (4) the magnitude of the quasar variability is a function of wavelength: variability increases toward the blue part of the spectrum, (5) high-luminosity quasars vary less than low-luminosity quasars, consistent with a scenario in which variations have limited absolute magnitude. Based on this, we conclude that quasar variability is intrinsic to the Active Galactic Nucleus, is caused by chromatic outbursts/flares with a limited luminosity range and varying time-scales, and which have an overall asymmetric light-curve shape. Currently the model that has the most promise of fitting the observations is based on accretion disk instabilities.

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page(s) pp. 615; PDF-FILE: 18 ; SIZE: 1.1 MBYTES

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  • Journal Name: Astronomical Journal; Journal Volume: 129; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Journal published February 1, 2005

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-208117
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 15011538
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1410080

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  • November 15, 2004

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  • Jan. 23, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

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  • Feb. 8, 2019, 6:41 p.m.

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de Vries, W; Becker, R; White, R & Loomis, C. STRUCTURE FUNCTION ANALYSIS OF LONG-TERM QUASAR VARIABILITY, article, November 15, 2004; Livermore, California. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1410080/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.