Quasars with flare/eclipse-like variability identified in ZTF

Zheng, Zhiyuan; Shi, Yong; Jin, Shuowen; Dannerbauer, H.; Gu, Qiusheng; Li, Xin; Yu, Xiaoling
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are known to exhibit optical/ultraviolet variability and most of them can be well modelled by the damped random walks. Physical processes that are not related to the accretion disc, such as tidal disruption events (TDEs) or moving foreground dusty clouds, can cause flare-like and eclipse-like features in the optical light curve. Both long-term and high-cadence monitoring are needed to identify such features. By combining the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, and the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey, we are able to identify a rare sample (11) out of the SDSS quasar catalogue ($\sim\!\! 83\, 000$). These quasars exhibit more or less constant brightness but show rapid optical variation in the epochs of ZTF Public Data Release 2. To investigate the possible origins of these flare/eclipse-like variabilities, we propose the second-epoch spectroscopic observations with the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS. We find that the change in accretion rate plays a significant role in these quasar variabilities. Among them, we identify two changing-look AGN candidates: SDSS J1427+2930 and SDSS J1420+3757. The luminosity change of the former may be caused by the enhanced supermassive black hole's accretion or the TDE, while the latter is more related to the change in the accretion rate.