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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Quasar Black Hole Mass Estimates from High-Ionization Lines: Breaking a Taboo?

1
Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), IT 35122 Padova, Italy
2
Instituto de Astrofisíca de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), E-18008 Granada, Spain
3
Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México D.F. 04510, Mexico
4
Astronomical Observatory, Volgina 7, 11060 Belgrade 38, Serbia
5
Dipartimento di Fisica & Astronomia “Galileo Galilei”, Università di Padova, IT35122 Padova , Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Robert C. Forrey
Atoms 2017, 5(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/atoms5030033
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 12 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 20 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spectral Line Shapes in Astrophysics and Related Topics)
Can high ionization lines such as CIV λ 1549 provide useful virial broadening estimators for computing the mass of the supermassive black holes that power the quasar phenomenon? The question has been dismissed by several workers as a rhetorical one because blue-shifted, non-virial emission associated with gas outflows is often prominent in CIV λ 1549 line profiles. In this contribution, we first summarize the evidence suggesting that the FWHM of low-ionization lines like H β and MgII λ 2800 provide reliable virial broadening estimators over a broad range of luminosity. We confirm that the line widths of CIV λ 1549 is not immediately offering a virial broadening estimator equivalent to the width of low-ionization lines. However, capitalizing on the results of Coatman et al. (2016) and Sulentic et al. (2017), we suggest a correction to FWHM CIV λ 1549 for Eddington ratio and luminosity effects that, however, remains cumbersome to apply in practice. Intermediate ionization lines (IP ∼ 20–30 eV; AlIII λ 1860 and SiIII] λ 1892) may provide a better virial broadening estimator for high redshift quasars, but larger samples are needed to assess their reliability. Ultimately, they may be associated with the broad-line region radius estimated from the photoionization method introduced by Negrete et al. (2013) to obtain black hole mass estimates independent from scaling laws. View Full-Text
Keywords: ionization processes; emission line formation; atomic spectroscopy; supermassive black holes; emission line profiles; quasars ionization processes; emission line formation; atomic spectroscopy; supermassive black holes; emission line profiles; quasars
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Marziani, P.; Olmo, A.D.; Martínez-Aldama, M.L.; Dultzin, D.; Negrete, A.; Bon, E.; Bon, N.; D’Onofrio, M. Quasar Black Hole Mass Estimates from High-Ionization Lines: Breaking a Taboo? Atoms 2017, 5, 33.

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