We study the optical variability of a sample of candidate low-mass (dwarf and Seyfert) active galactic nuclei (AGNs) using Zwicky Transient Facility g-band light curves. Our sample is compiled from broad-line AGNs in dwarf galaxies reported in the literature with single-epoch virial black hole (BH) masses in the range MBH ∼ 104 − 108 M⊙. We measure the characteristic “damping” timescale of the optical variability τDRW, beyond which the power spectral density flattens, of a final sample of 79 candidate low-mass AGNs with high-quality light curves. Our results provide further confirmation of the MBH − τDRW relation from previous work within 1σ agreement, adding 78 new low-mass AGNs to the relation. The agreement suggests that the virial BH mass estimates for these AGNs are generally reasonable. We expect that the optical light curve of an accreting intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) to vary with a rest-frame damping timescale of ∼ tens of hours, which could enable detection and direct mass estimation of accreting IMBHs in wide-field time-domain imaging surveys with sufficient cadence like with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society|
|State||E-pub ahead of print - Feb 16 2023|
- black hole physics
- galaxies: active
- galaxies: dwarf
- accretion discs