A Transient “Changing-look” Active Galactic Nucleus Resolved on Month Timescales from First-year Sloan Digital Sky Survey V Data

Grisha Zeltyn, Benny Trakhtenbrot, Michael Eracleous, Jessie Runnoe, Jonathan R. Trump, Jonathan Stern, Yue Shen, Lorena Hernández-García, Franz E. Bauer, Qian Yang, Tom Dwelly, Claudio Ricci, Paul Green, Scott F. Anderson, Roberto J. Assef, Muryel Guolo, Chelsea MacLeod, Megan C. Davis, Logan Fries, Suvi GezariNorman A. Grogin, David Homan, Anton M. Koekemoer, Mirko Krumpe, Stephanie LaMassa, Xin Liu, Andrea Merloni, Mary Loli Martínez-Aldama, Donald P. Schneider, Matthew J. Temple, Joel R. Brownstein, Hector Ibarra-Medel, Jamison Burke, Craig Pellegrino, Juna A. Kollmeier

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11 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of a new “changing-look” active galactic nucleus (CLAGN) event, in the quasar SDSS J162829.17+432948.5 at z = 0.2603, identified through repeat spectroscopy from the fifth Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V). Optical photometry taken during 2020-2021 shows a dramatic dimming of Δg ≈ 1 mag, followed by a rapid recovery on a timescale of several months, with the ≲2 month period of rebrightening captured in new SDSS-V and Las Cumbres Observatory spectroscopy. This is one of the fastest CLAGN transitions observed to date. Archival observations suggest that the object experienced a much more gradual dimming over the period of 2011-2013. Our spectroscopy shows that the photometric changes were accompanied by dramatic variations in the quasar-like continuum and broad-line emission. The excellent agreement between the pre- and postdip photometric and spectroscopic appearances of the source, as well as the fact that the dimmest spectra can be reproduced by applying a single extinction law to the brighter spectral states, favor a variable line-of-sight obscuration as the driver of the observed transitions. Such an interpretation faces several theoretical challenges, and thus an alternative accretion-driven scenario cannot be excluded. The recent events observed in this quasar highlight the importance of spectroscopic monitoring of large active galactic nucleus samples on weeks-to-months timescales, which the SDSS-V is designed to achieve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL16
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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