Vol 19, No 10

On the weak Lyα emission line of BL Lacertae objects

Jia Bu, Ren-Yi Ma, Tao-Tao Fang, Xiao-Di Yu, Xin-Wu Cao


Abstract Recent studies reveal that weak Lyα emission line may be a ubiquitous feature of nearby BL Laceratae objects (BL Lacs). We present a survey of the Lyα emission lines in BL Lacs, with a focus on data obtained by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Among the 11 selected targets, seven show a clear detection of the intrinsic Lyα emission line, while one manifests a marginal detection. Two of these intrinsic Lyα lines are newly detected in this work (FBQS J1217+3007 and 3C 66A). Most selected BL Lacs are either high or intermediate-frequency peaked BL Lacs, with the only exception being one low-frequency peaked BL Lac. A strong anti-correlation between the line equivalent width and the continuum luminosity was found. The possible sources of ionizing photons that are responsible for production of the Lyα emission line are studied based on a widely accepted detailed accretion-jet model. It is found that the clouds of the broad line region are unlikely to be located in the jet cone region with an inclination angle of less than 10 degrees. Contributions from the jet and disk to the emission lines are found to be comparable. Additionally, a possible way to constrain the accretion rate from the emission line is proposed.


Keywords galaxies: active — BL Lacertae objects: general — ultraviolet: galaxies — galaxies: jets

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