For the past several decades, mass estimates for supermassive black holes hosted by active galactic nuclei (AGN) have been made with the reverberation mapping (RM) technique. This methodology has produced consistent results and has been used to establish several relations that link the characteristics of the host galaxy to the mass of the central black hole. Despite this success, there are less than 50 AGN with black hole masses derived from RM. This low number is generally attributed to the difficulties in coordinating large blocks of telescope time for making simultaneous photometric and spectroscopic observations. Spectroscopic observations also generally require several months of nightly observations with moderate to large size telescopes as the signal-to-noise ratio is too low for smaller telescopes. We have made photometric observations of NGC 5548 in four filters (a custom-made Hα10 filter, the Strömgren y filter, the Johnson/Cousins V filter and the Johnson/Cousins R filter) in order to evaluate a photometric methodology for determining the lag time between the variations observed in the continuum and the Hα emission from the broad-line region (BLR) gas. This time delay represents the mean light travel time to the BLR and is therefore a measurement of the mean BLR radius. Multiple JAVELIN analyses of the three continuum light curves (y, V, and R), relative to the light curve from the Hα10 filter yields a value for τ = 3.3 ± 0.1 days. Adopting a value of f = 5.5, along with a single-epoch spectroscopic measurement from Park et of Δv = 4354±25 km/s, enables us to estimate a black hole mass of M_BH = 67.2±2.2x10^6 M_sun.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy



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reverberation mapping, supermassive black holes, NGC 5548, active galactic nuclei