Infrared Time Lags for the Periodic Quasar PG 1302-102

November 2015 • 2015ApJ...814L..12J

Authors • Jun, Hyunsung D. • Stern, Daniel • Graham, Matthew J. • Djorgovski, S. G. • Mainzer, Amy • Cutri, Roc M. • Drake, Andrew J. • Mahabal, Ashish A.

Abstract • The optical light curve of the quasar PG 1302-102 at z=0.278 shows a strong, smooth 5.2 year periodic signal, detectable over a period of ∼20 years. Although the interpretation of this phenomenon is still uncertain, the most plausible mechanisms involve a binary system of two supermassive black holes with a subparsec separation. At this close separation, the nuclear black holes in PG 1302-102 will likely merge within ∼ {10}5 years due to gravitational wave emission alone. Here, we report the rest-frame near-infrared time lags for PG 1302-102. Compiling data from WISE and Akari, we confirm that the periodic behavior reported in the optical light curve from Graham et al. is reproduced at infrared wavelengths, with best-fit observed-frame 3.4 and 4.6 μ {{m}} time lags of (2219 ± 153, 2408 ± 148) days for a near face-on orientation of the torus, or (4103 ± 153, 4292 ± 148) days for an inclined system with relativistic Doppler boosting in effect. The periodicity in the infrared light curves and the light-travel time of the accretion disk photons to reach the dust glowing regions support that a source within the accretion disk is responsible for the optical variability of PG 1302-102, echoed at the farther out dusty regions. The implied distance of this dusty, assumed toroidal region is ∼1.5 pc for a near face-on geometry or ∼1.1 pc for the relativistic Doppler-boosted case.


IPAC Authors

Roc Cutri

IPAC Deputy Director