We monitored the z = 0.158 quasar 3C 273 between 2015 and 2019 in the optical (BVrz) and near-infrared (JHK) with the aim to perform dust reverberation mapping. Accounting for host galaxy and accretion disk contributions, we obtained pure dust light curves in JHK. Cross correlations between the V band and the dust light curves yield an average rest-frame delay for the hot dust of τ cent ∼ 410 days. This is a factor of two shorter than that expected from the the dust ring radius R x ∼ 900 lt-day reported from interferometric studies. The dust covering factor (CF) is about 8%, much smaller than that predicted from the half covering angle of 45° found for active galactic nuclei (AGNs). We analyze the asymmetric shape of the correlation functions and explore whether an inclined biconical bowl-shaped dust torus geometry could bring these findings (τ cent, R x and CF) into a consistent picture. The hot varying dust emission originates from the edge of the bowl rim with a small covering angle 40° < θ < 45°, and we see only the near side of the biconus. Such a dust gloriole with R x = 900 ± 200 lt-day and an inclination 12° matches the data remarkably well. Comparing the results of 3C 273 with literature for less luminous AGN, we find a lag-luminosity relation τ ∝ L α with α = 0.33-0.40, flatter than the widely adopted relation with α ∼ 0.5. We address several explanations for the new lag-luminosity relation.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science