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B.T. Fleming (Illinois Institute of Technology), J. Kennefick (Universty of Arkansas)
Variation in quasar magnitude from night to night can reveal long term variability trends as well as have a greater chance of detecting sudden luminosity changes than a typical long-term variability survey. In this study, five quasars with a range of properties were observed approximately every other night over 40 days using the 24” NFO webscope in Silver City, NM. Three 200 second exposure images were taken in both the R and V color filters each observation. Two passbands were used so that the data could be correlated to support findings. The images were stacked and processed using IRAF and SExtractor. Differential photometry using field stars was utilized.
The five quasars were selected so that as large a range of redshift and absolute magnitude observable by the NFO webscope was represented. They are: (1) MRK 0877 with z=0.1124, (2) 3C-334 a RQQ with z=0.5551, (3) HS 1603+3820 a very luminous, very distant QSO with z=2.51, and two quasars from the QUEST survey (J1507-0202 and J1507-0207) which were selected because they both showed evidence of magnitude variations during the QUEST1 survey.
Two of the observed quasars showed no significant variability. 3C-334 displayed a sudden apparent magnitude jump in both passbands, with \DeltamR = 0.5602 ± 0.0474, corresponding to an increase of 6.62E+11 solar luminosities on June 21st. The magnitude returned to previous levels by the next observation. QUEST 1507-0202 and MRK 0877 suggested evidence of small long term variability over the 40 day study. Future observations revealing significant changes in magnitude corresponding to these trends may lead to the conclusion that these slow long-term variations can be detected over a 40 day time period with frequent observations.
Funding was provided through an Arkansas Space Center grant.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.