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Title: A Mid-IR Selected Changing-look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading

Abstract

We report a new changing-look quasar, WISE J105203.55+151929.5 at $z$ = 0.303, found by identifying highly mid-IR-variable quasars in the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)/Near-Earth Object WISE Reactivation (NEOWISE) data stream. Compared to multiepoch mid-IR photometry of a large sample of SDSS-confirmed quasars, WISE J1052+1519 is an extreme photometric outlier, fading by more than a factor of two at 3.4 and 4.6 $μ$m since 2009. Swift target-of-opportunity observations in 2017 show even stronger fading in the soft X-rays compared to the ROSAT detection of this source in 1995, with at least a factor of 15 decrease. We obtained second-epoch spectroscopy with the Palomar telescope in 2017 that, when compared with the 2006 archival SDSS spectrum, reveals that the broad H$β$ emission has vanished and that the quasar has become significantly redder. The two most likely interpretations for this dramatic change are source fading or obscuration, where the latter is strongly disfavored by the mid-IR data. We discuss various physical scenarios that could cause such changes in the quasar luminosity over this timescale, and favor changes in the innermost regions of the accretion disk that occur on the thermal and heating/cooling front timescales. We discuss possible physical triggers that could causemore » these changes, and predict the multiwavelength signatures that could distinguish these physical scenarios.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [2];  [4]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [6];  [7];  [3]; ORCiD logo [8];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3];  [1];  [9]
  1. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), La Canada Flintridge, CA (United States). Jet Propulsion Lab.
  2. Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY (United States). Dept. of Science; American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York, NY (United States); City Univ. (CUNY), NY (United States)
  3. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), La Canada Flintridge, CA (United States). Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
  4. Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). Inst. for Astronomy
  5. Berkeley Center or Cosmological Physics, Berkeley, CA (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  6. Núcleo de Astronomía de la Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago (Chile)
  7. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), La Canada Flintridge, CA (United States). Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA (United States)
  8. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), Tuscon, AZ (United States) and La Serena (Chile)
  9. Korea Inst. for Advanced Study, Seoul (Republic of Korea). School of Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1544065
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
[Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 864; Journal Issue: 1]; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; Astronomy & Astrophysics

Citation Formats

Stern, Daniel, McKernan, Barry, Graham, Matthew J., Ford, K. E. S., Ross, Nicholas P., Meisner, Aaron M., Assef, Roberto J., Baloković, Mislav, Brightman, Murray, Dey, Arjun, Drake, Andrew, Djorgovski, S. G., Eisenhardt, Peter, and Jun, Hyunsung D. A Mid-IR Selected Changing-look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aac726.
Stern, Daniel, McKernan, Barry, Graham, Matthew J., Ford, K. E. S., Ross, Nicholas P., Meisner, Aaron M., Assef, Roberto J., Baloković, Mislav, Brightman, Murray, Dey, Arjun, Drake, Andrew, Djorgovski, S. G., Eisenhardt, Peter, & Jun, Hyunsung D. A Mid-IR Selected Changing-look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aac726.
Stern, Daniel, McKernan, Barry, Graham, Matthew J., Ford, K. E. S., Ross, Nicholas P., Meisner, Aaron M., Assef, Roberto J., Baloković, Mislav, Brightman, Murray, Dey, Arjun, Drake, Andrew, Djorgovski, S. G., Eisenhardt, Peter, and Jun, Hyunsung D. Mon . "A Mid-IR Selected Changing-look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aac726. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1544065.
@article{osti_1544065,
title = {A Mid-IR Selected Changing-look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading},
author = {Stern, Daniel and McKernan, Barry and Graham, Matthew J. and Ford, K. E. S. and Ross, Nicholas P. and Meisner, Aaron M. and Assef, Roberto J. and Baloković, Mislav and Brightman, Murray and Dey, Arjun and Drake, Andrew and Djorgovski, S. G. and Eisenhardt, Peter and Jun, Hyunsung D.},
abstractNote = {We report a new changing-look quasar, WISE J105203.55+151929.5 at $z$ = 0.303, found by identifying highly mid-IR-variable quasars in the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)/Near-Earth Object WISE Reactivation (NEOWISE) data stream. Compared to multiepoch mid-IR photometry of a large sample of SDSS-confirmed quasars, WISE J1052+1519 is an extreme photometric outlier, fading by more than a factor of two at 3.4 and 4.6 $μ$m since 2009. Swift target-of-opportunity observations in 2017 show even stronger fading in the soft X-rays compared to the ROSAT detection of this source in 1995, with at least a factor of 15 decrease. We obtained second-epoch spectroscopy with the Palomar telescope in 2017 that, when compared with the 2006 archival SDSS spectrum, reveals that the broad H$β$ emission has vanished and that the quasar has become significantly redder. The two most likely interpretations for this dramatic change are source fading or obscuration, where the latter is strongly disfavored by the mid-IR data. We discuss various physical scenarios that could cause such changes in the quasar luminosity over this timescale, and favor changes in the innermost regions of the accretion disk that occur on the thermal and heating/cooling front timescales. We discuss possible physical triggers that could cause these changes, and predict the multiwavelength signatures that could distinguish these physical scenarios.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/aac726},
journal = {The Astrophysical Journal (Online)},
number = [1],
volume = [864],
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
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Cited by: 16 works
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Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Histogram of maximum variation in mid-IR magnitude between 2010 January and 2014 December for 200,622 quasars in DECaLS DR3 region. We only plot sources with mean epochal signal-to-noise ratio > 10 for each band. WISE J1052+1519 stands out as being highly variable in both W1 and W2.

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