AGNet: Weighing Black Holes with Deep Learning

08/17/2021
by   Joshua Yao-Yu Lin, et al.
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Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are ubiquitously found at the centers of most massive galaxies. Measuring SMBH mass is important for understanding the origin and evolution of SMBHs. However, traditional methods require spectroscopic data which is expensive to gather. We present an algorithm that weighs SMBHs using quasar light time series, circumventing the need for expensive spectra. We train, validate, and test neural networks that directly learn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Stripe 82 light curves for a sample of 38,939 spectroscopically confirmed quasars to map out the nonlinear encoding between SMBH mass and multi-color optical light curves. We find a 1σ scatter of 0.37 dex between the predicted SMBH mass and the fiducial virial mass estimate based on SDSS single-epoch spectra, which is comparable to the systematic uncertainty in the virial mass estimate. Our results have direct implications for more efficient applications with future observations from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Our code, , is publicly available at <https://github.com/snehjp2/AGNet>.

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