Black hole mass and variability in quasars
- Conference date: 10–15 February 2008
- Location: Kolkata (India)
We report on a study that finds a positive correlation between black hole mass and variability amplitude in quasars. Roughly 100 quasars at were selected by matching objects from the QUEST1 Variability Survey with broad‐lined objects from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Black hole masses were estimated with the virial method using the broad Hβ line, and variability was characterized from the QUEST1 light curves. The correlation between black hole mass and variability amplitude is significant at the 99% level or better and does not appear to be caused by obvious selection effects inherent to flux‐limited samples. It is most evident for rest frame time lags of the order a few months up to the QUEST1 maximum temporal resolution of about 2 years. The correlation between black hole mass and variability amplitude means that the more massive black holes have larger percentage flux variations. Over 2–3 orders of magnitude in black hole mass, the amplitude increases by A likely explanation for the correlation is that the more massive black holes are starving and produce larger flux variations because they do not have a steady inflow of gaseous fuel. Assuming that the variability arises from changes in the accretion rate Li & Cao  show that flux variations similar to those observed are expected as a consequence of the more massive black holes having cooler accretion disks.
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