Monitoring Active Galactic Nuclei with Hbeta Asymmetry with the Wyoming Infrared Observatory

Active galaxies nuclei (AGNs) are powered by rapidly accreting supermassive black holes. The emitting regions are too small and too far away to spatially resolve, but we can still determine the distances and velocities of gas near the black hole that can result in a determination of its mass. The technique is called reverberation mapping, and uses time-series spectroscopy to measure the time delay between the central continuum source, thought to be an accretion disk feeding the black hole, and the response from the spatially extended broad emission-line region (BLR).  Reverberation mapping campaigns require months of telescope time, and only about 100 objects have been analyzed this way over the last several decades.  We present preliminary results from a new long-term campaign using the 2.3 meter WIRO telescopes called  "Monitoring AGNs with Hbeta Asymmetry", also known as MAHA. We target rarer AGNs with extremely asymmetric profiles that may provide new insights into the full diversity of size and structure of the BLR. Our targets include small-separation binary black hole candidates, which are expected to exist and produce gravitational waves.  Our most ambitious goal for MAHA is to obtain compelling evidence of binary black holes powering some AGNs and to characterize their properties.

Prof. Mike Brotherton (University of Wyoming)
DoA, Rm 2907
Mon, 2018-07-16 12:00 to 13:00