We present the results of an optical spectroscopic monitoring program targeting NGC 5548 as part of a larger multiwavelength reverberation mapping campaign. The campaign spanned 6 months and achieved an almost daily cadence with observations from five ground-based telescopes. The Hβ and He ii λ4686 broad emission-line light curves lag that of the 5100 Å optical continuum by 4.17+0.36 -0.36 days and 0.79+0.35-0.34 days respectively. The Hβ lag relative to the 1158 Å ultraviolet continuum light curve measured by the Hubble Space Telescope is ~50% longer than that measured against the optical continuum, and the lag difference is consistent with the observed lag between the optical and ultraviolet continua. This suggests that the characteristic radius of the broad-line region is ~50% larger than the value inferred from optical data alone. We also measured velocity-resolved emission-line lags for Hβ and found a complex velocity-lag structure with shorter lags in the line wings, indicative of a broad-line region dominated by Keplerian motion. The responses of both the Hβ and He ii emission lines to the driving continuum changed significantly halfway through the campaign, a phenomenon also observed for C IV, Lyα, He II(+O III]), and Si IV(+O IV]) during the same monitoring period. Finally, given the optical luminosity of NGC 5548 during our campaign, the measured Hβ lag is a factor of five shorter than the expected value implied by the R BLRL AGN relation based on the past behavior of NGC 5548.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 837, no. 2, 131, p. 1-21.

© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

Due to the large number of authors, only the first 30 and the authors affiliated with the University of Kentucky are listed in the author section above. For the complete list of authors, please download this article.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

Support for HST program no. GO-13330 was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. L.P. and A.J.B. have been supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant AST-1412693. M.M.F., G.D.R., B.M.P., C.J.G., and R.W.P. are grateful for the support of NSF grant AST-1008882 to The Ohio State University. M.C. Bentz gratefully acknowledges support through NSF CAREER grant AST-1253702 to Georgia State University.

Due to the large number of funding sources, only the first few are listed in this section. For the complete list of funding sources, please download this article.

apjaa5eb1t2_mrt.txt (19 kB)
Table 2: machine-readable version