We systematically investigate short-timescale (<10 day rest-frame) C iv broad absorption-line (BAL) variability to constrain quasar-wind properties and provide insights into BAL-variability mechanisms in quasars. We employ data taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Reverberation Mapping project, as the rapid cadence of these observations provides a novel opportunity to probe BAL variability on shorter rest-frame timescales than have previously been explored. In a sample of 27 quasars with a median of 58 spectral epochs per quasar, we have identified 15 quasars (%), 19 of 37 C iv BAL troughs (%), and 54 of 1460 epoch pairs (3.7% ± 0.5%) that exhibit significant C iv BAL equivalent-width variability on timescales of less than 10 days in the quasar rest frame. These frequencies indicate that such variability is common among quasars and BALs, though somewhat rare among epoch pairs. Thus, models describing BALs and their behavior must account for variability on timescales down to less than a day in the quasar rest frame. We also examine a variety of spectral characteristics and find that, in some cases, BAL variability is best described by ionization-state changes, while other cases are more consistent with changes in covering fraction or column density. We adopt a simple model to constrain the density and radial distance of two outflows appearing to vary by ionization-state changes, yielding outflow density lower limits consistent with previous work.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science