We explore the practical feasibility of active galactic nucleus (AGN) broadband reverberation mapping and present first results. We lay out and apply a rigorous approach for the stochastic reverberation mapping of unevenly sampled multi-broadband flux measurements, assuming that the broad-line region (BLR) line flux is contributing up to 15% in some bands, and is directly constrained by one spectroscopical epoch. The approach describes variations of the observed flux as the continuum, modeled as a stochastic Gaussian process, and emission line contribution, modeled as a scaled, smoothed, and delayed version of the continuum. This approach can be used not only to interpolate in time between measurements, but also to determine confidence limits on continuum - line emission delays. This approach is applied to Sloan Digital Sky Survey observations in Stripe 82 (S82), providing flux measurements that are precise to 2% at ∼60 epochs over ∼10 yr. The strong annual variations in the epoch sampling prove a serious limitation in practice. In addition, suitable redshift ranges must be identified where strong, broad emission lines contribute to one filter, but not to another. By generating and evaluating problem-specific mock data, we verify that S82-like data can constrain τdelay for a simple transfer function model. In application to real data, we estimate τdelay for 323 AGNs with 0.225 < z < 0.846, combining information for different objects through the ensemble-scaling relationships for BLR size and black hole mass. Our analysis tentatively indicates a 1.7 times larger BLR size of Hα and Mg II compared to Kaspi et al. and Vestergaard, but the seasonal data sampling casts doubt on the robustness of the inference.
- galaxies: photometry
- quasars: supermassive black holes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science