A Forward Modeling Approach to AGN Variability - Method Description and Early Applications

Lia F. Sartori, Benny Trakhtenbrot, Kevin Schawinski, Neven Caplar, Ezequiel Treister, Ce Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We present a numerical framework for the variability of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), which links the variability of AGNs over a broad range of timescales and luminosities to the observed properties of the AGN population as a whole, and particularly the Eddington ratio distribution function. We implemented our framework on GPU architecture, relying on previously published time-series-generating algorithms. After extensive tests that characterize several intrinsic and numerical aspects of the simulations, we describe some applications used for current and future time-domain surveys and for the study of extremely variable sources (e.g., "changing-look" or flaring AGNs). Specifically, we define a simulation setup that reproduces the AGN variability observed in the (intermediate) Palomar Transient Factory survey and use it to forward model longer light curves of the kind that may be observed within the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) main survey. Thanks to our efficient implementations, these simulations are able to cover, for example, over 1 Myr with a roughly weekly cadence. We envision that this framework will become highly valuable to prepare for, and best exploit, data from upcoming time-domain surveys, such as, for example, LSST.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


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