Broad absorption line variability in repeat quasar observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Britt F. Lundgren, Brian C. Wilhite, Robert J. Brunner, Patrick B. Hall, Donald P. Schneider, Donald G. York, Daniel E. Vanden Berk, Jonathan Brinkmann

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87 Scopus citations


We present a time-variability analysis of 29 broad absorption line quasars (BALQSOs) observed in two epochs by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These spectra are selected from a larger sample of BALQSOs with multiple observations by virtue of exhibiting a broad C IV λ1549 absorption trough separated from the rest frame of the associated emission peak by more than 3600 km s -1. Detached troughs facilitate higher precision variability measurements, since the measurement of the absorption in these objects is not complicated by variation in the emission-line flux. We have undertaken a statistical analysis of these detached-trough BALQSO spectra to explore the relationships between BAL features that are seen to vary and the dynamics of emission from the quasar central engine. We have measured variability within our sample, which includes three strongly variable BALs. We have also verified that the statistical behavior of the overall sample agrees with current model predictions and previous studies of BAL variability. Specifically, we observe that the strongest BAL variability occurs among the smallest equivalent width features and at velocities exceeding 12,000 km s-1, as predicted by recent disk-wind modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Feb 10 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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