Spectroscopic classification, variability, and SED of the Fermi-detected CSS 3C 286: the radio-loudest NLS1 galaxy?
3C 286 is a well-known calibrator source in radio astronomy. It is also one of very few compact steep-spectrum (CSS) sources detected in γ-rays. Here, we perform a detailed spectroscopic and variability analysis and present the first quasi-simultaneous optical to X-ray spectral energy distribution (SED) in order to reveal physical mechanisms that dominate its emission at different wavelengths, and arrive at a reliable optical source classification. The first main result of our study reveals several pitfalls when applying simple broad- or narrow-line Seyfert 1 (BLS1 or NLS1) classification criteria that only look at the [O III]-Hβ complex. [O III] and Hβ can be dominated by the same outflow components, in which case full width at half-maximum (Hβ) is no reliable classification criterion, and extinction by intrinsic or intervening material can make the highest velocity Hβ component undetectable. After careful combination of all information from ultraviolet (UV)-optical spectra along with multiwavelength data, we confirm that 3C 286 can be classified as NLS1 galaxy, with line properties and supermassive black hole mass (of order 108 M⊙ and accreting near the Eddington limit) close to the BLS1 regime, making it an important borderline object. The quasi-simultaneous SED taken with Swift shows a sharp rise in the optical-UV, implying the presence of a strong accretion-disc component with extreme UV excess, consistent with emission-line diagnostics. Finally, we report the discovery of X-ray variability of 3C 286, plausibly dominated by jet emission, and variable by at least a factor of ~4. This result suggests to exercise caution when using 3C 286 as radio calibrator in high-resolution radio very long baseline interferometry observations.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- February 2021
- galaxies: active;
- galaxies: jets;
- galaxies: nuclei;
- quasars: individual: 3C 286;
- quasars: supermassive black holes;
- galaxies: Seyfert;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 10 pages, 4 figures, MNRAS accepted