We investigate the time-dependent variations of ultraviolet (UV) black hole mass estimates of quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). From SDSS spectra of 615 high-redshift (1.69 < z < 4.75) quasars with spectra from two epochs, we estimate black hole masses using a single-epoch technique, which employs an additional, automated night-sky line removal and relies on UV continuum luminosity and C iv /11549 emission-line dispersion. Mass estimates show variations between epochs at about the 30% level for the sample as a whole. We determine that for our full sample, measurement error in the line dispersion likely plays a larger role than the inherent variability in terms of contributing to variations in mass estimates between epochs. However, we use the variations in quasars with r-band spectral signal-to-noise ratio greater than 15 to estimate that the contribution to these variations from inherent variability is roughly 20%. We conclude that these differences in black hole mass estimates between epochs indicate that variability does not make a large contribution to the current factor of 2 scatter between mass estimates derived from low- and high-ionization emission lines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science