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Variability of Fe II Emission Features in the Seyfert 1 Galaxy NGC 5548

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We study the low-contrast Fe II emission blends in the ultraviolet (1250--2200A) and optical (4000--6000A) spectra of the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 5548 and show that these features vary in flux and that these variations are correlated with those of the optical continuum. The amplitude of variability of the optical Fe II emission is 50% - 75% that of Hbeta and the ultraviolet Fe II emission varies with an even larger amplitude than Hbeta. However, accurate measurement of the flux in these blends proves to be very difficult even using excellent Fe II templates to fit the spectra. We are able to constrain only weakly the optical Fe II emission-line response timescale to a value less than several weeks; this upper limit exceeds all the reliably measured emission-line lags in this source so it is not particularly meaningful. Nevertheless, the fact that the optical Fe II and continuum flux variations are correlated indicates that line fluorescence in a photoionized plasma, rather than collisional excitation, is responsible for the Fe II emission. The iron emission templates are available upon request.
TidsskriftAstrophysical Journal
Udgave nummer2
StatusUdgivet - 21 feb. 2005

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