We investigate broad absorption line (BAL) disappearance and emergence using a 470 BALquasar sample over ≤0.10-5.25 rest-frame years with at least three spectroscopic epochs for each quasar from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We identify 14 disappearing BALs over≤1.73-4.62 rest-frame years and 18 emerging BALs over ≤1.46-3.66 rest-frame years associated with the C IV λλ1548,1550 and/or Si IV λλ1393,1402 doublets, and report on their variability behaviour. BAL quasars in our data set exhibit disappearing/emerging C IV BALs at a rate of 2.3-0.7+0.9 and 3.0-0.8+1.0 per cent, respectively, and the frequency for BAL to non-BAL quasar transitions is 1.7-0.6+0.8 per cent. We detect four re-emerging BALs over ≤3.88 rest-frame years on average and three re-disappearing BALs over ≤4.15 rest-frame years on average, the first reported cases of these types. We infer BAL lifetimes along the line of sight to be nominally ≲100-1000 yr using disappearing C IV BALs in our sample. Interpretations of (re-)emerging and (re-)disappearing BALs reveal evidence that collectively supports both transverse-motion and ionization-change scenarios to explain BAL variations. We constrain a nominal C IV/Si IV BAL-outflow location of ≲100 pc from the central source and a radial size of ≳1× 10-7 pc (0.02 au) using the ionization-change scenario, and constrain a nominal outflow location of ≲0.5 pc and a transverse size of ~0.01 pc using the transverse-motion scenario. Our findings are consistent with previous work, and provide evidence in support of BALs tracing compact flow geometries with small filling factors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science