Short-term variability and power spectral density analysis of the radio-loud active galactic nucleus 3C 390.3

Mario Gliozzi, Iossif E. Papadakis, Michael Eracleous, Rita M. Sambruna, David R. Ballantyne, Valentina Braito, James N. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We investigate the short-term variability properties and the power spectral density (PSD) of the broad-line radio galaxy (BLRG) 3C 390.3 using observations made by XMM-Newton, RXTE, and Suzaku on several occasions between 2004 October and 2006 December. The main aim of this work is to derive model-independent constraints on the origin of the X-ray emission and on the nature of the central engine in 3C 390.3. On timescales of the order of few hours, probed by uninterrupted XMM-Newton light curves, the flux of 3C 390.3 is consistent with being constant in all energy bands. On longer timescales, probed by the 2-day RXTE and Suzaku observations, the flux variability becomes significant. The latter observation confirms that the spectral variability behavior of 3C 390.3 is consistent with the spectral evolution observed in (radio-quiet) Seyfert galaxies: the spectrum softens as the source brightens. The correlated variability between soft and hard X-rays, observed during the Suzaku exposure and between the two XMM-Newton pointings, taken 1 week apart, argues against scenarios characterized by the presence of two distinct variable components in the 0.5-10 keV X-ray band. A detailed PSD analysis carried out over five decades in frequency suggests the presence of a break at T br = 43 +34 -25 days at a 92% confidence level. This is the second tentative detection of a PSD break in a radio-loud, non-jet dominated active galactic nucleus (AGN), after the BLRG 3C 120, and appears to be in general agreement with the relation between T br, M BH, and L bol, followed by Seyfert galaxies. Our results indicate that the X-ray variability properties of 3C 390.3 are broadly consistent with those of radio-quiet AGN, suggesting that the X-ray emission mechanism in 3C 390.3 is similar to that of nearby Seyfert galaxies without any significant contribution from a jet component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1029
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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