Observational Constraints on the Structure and Evolution of Quasars

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/193633
Title:
Observational Constraints on the Structure and Evolution of Quasars
Author:
Kelly, Brandon Charles
Issue Date:
2008
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
I use X-ray and optical data to investigate the structure of quasars, and its dependence on luminosity, redshift, black hole mass, and Eddington ratio. In order to facilitate my work, I develop new statistical methods of accounting for measurement error, non-detections, and survey selection functions. The main results of this thesis follow. (1) The statistical uncertainty in the broad line mass estimates can lead to significant artificial broadening of the observed distribution of black hole mass. (2) The z = 0.2 broad line quasar black hole mass function falls off approximately as a power law with slope ~ 2 for M_{BH} > 10^8 M_{Sun}. (3) Radio-quiet quasars become more X-ray quiet as their optical/UV luminosity, black hole mass, or Eddington ratio increase, and more X-ray loud at higher redshift. These correlations imply that quasars emit a larger fraction of their bolometric luminosity through the accretion disk component, as compared to the corona component, as black hole mass and Eddington ratio increase. (4) The X-ray spectral slopes of radio-quiet quasars display a non-monotonic trend with Eddington ratio, where the X-ray continuum softens with increasing Eddington ratio until L / L_{Edd} ~ 0.3, and then begins to harden. This observed non-monotonic trend may be caused by a change in the structure of the disk/corona system at L / L_{Edd} ~ 0.3, possibly due to increased radiation pressure. (5) The characteristic time scales of quasar optical flux variations increase with increasing M_{BH}, and are consistent with disk orbital or thermal time scales. In addition the amplitude of short time scale variability decreases with increasing M_{BH}. I interpret quasar optical light curves as being driven by thermal fluctuations, which in turn are driven by some other underlying stochastic process with characteristic time scale long compared to the disk thermal time scale. The stochastic model I use is able to explain both short and long time scale optical fluctuations.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Astronomy
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Astronomy; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Bechtold, Jill
Committee Chair:
Bechtold, Jill

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleObservational Constraints on the Structure and Evolution of Quasarsen_US
dc.creatorKelly, Brandon Charlesen_US
dc.contributor.authorKelly, Brandon Charlesen_US
dc.date.issued2008en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractI use X-ray and optical data to investigate the structure of quasars, and its dependence on luminosity, redshift, black hole mass, and Eddington ratio. In order to facilitate my work, I develop new statistical methods of accounting for measurement error, non-detections, and survey selection functions. The main results of this thesis follow. (1) The statistical uncertainty in the broad line mass estimates can lead to significant artificial broadening of the observed distribution of black hole mass. (2) The z = 0.2 broad line quasar black hole mass function falls off approximately as a power law with slope ~ 2 for M_{BH} > 10^8 M_{Sun}. (3) Radio-quiet quasars become more X-ray quiet as their optical/UV luminosity, black hole mass, or Eddington ratio increase, and more X-ray loud at higher redshift. These correlations imply that quasars emit a larger fraction of their bolometric luminosity through the accretion disk component, as compared to the corona component, as black hole mass and Eddington ratio increase. (4) The X-ray spectral slopes of radio-quiet quasars display a non-monotonic trend with Eddington ratio, where the X-ray continuum softens with increasing Eddington ratio until L / L_{Edd} ~ 0.3, and then begins to harden. This observed non-monotonic trend may be caused by a change in the structure of the disk/corona system at L / L_{Edd} ~ 0.3, possibly due to increased radiation pressure. (5) The characteristic time scales of quasar optical flux variations increase with increasing M_{BH}, and are consistent with disk orbital or thermal time scales. In addition the amplitude of short time scale variability decreases with increasing M_{BH}. I interpret quasar optical light curves as being driven by thermal fluctuations, which in turn are driven by some other underlying stochastic process with characteristic time scale long compared to the disk thermal time scale. The stochastic model I use is able to explain both short and long time scale optical fluctuations.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectAstronomyen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAstronomyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorBechtold, Jillen_US
dc.contributor.chairBechtold, Jillen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberFan, Xiaohuien_US
dc.contributor.committeememberDave, Romeelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWalker, Christopheren_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRudnick, Gregoryen_US
dc.identifier.proquest2724en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659749741en_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.