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Journal Articles Astrophysics and Space Science Year : 2020

Characterizing some Gaia Alerts with LAMOST and SDSS

Z. Huo
  • Function : Author
X. Liu
  • Function : Author
T. Pursimo
  • Function : Author
T. Zhang
  • Function : Author


The ESA-Gaia satellite is regularly producing Alerts on objects where photometric variability has been detected after several passages over the same region of the sky. The physical nature of these objects has often to be determined with the help of complementary observations from ground-based facilities. We have compared the list of Gaia Alerts (from the beginning in 2014 to Nov. 1st, 2018) with archival LAMOST and SDSS spectroscopic data. A search radius of 3″ has been adopted. In using survey data, the date of the ground-based observation rarely corresponds to the date of the Alert, but this allows at least the identification of the source if it is persistent, or the host galaxy if the object was only transient like a supernova (SN). Some of the objects have several LAMOST observations, and we complemented this search by adding also SDSS DR15 data in order to look for long-term variability. A list of Gaia Nuclear Transients (GNT) from Kostrzewa-Rutkowska et al. (Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 481(1):307, 2018) has been included in this search also. We found 26 Gaia Alerts with spectra in LAMOST+SDSS labelled as stars, among which 12 have multi-epoch spectra. A majority of them are Cataclysmic Variables (CVs). Similarly, 206 Gaia Alerts have associated spectra labelled as galaxies, among which 49 have multi-epoch spectra. Those spectra were generally obtained on a date widely different from the Alert date, and are mostly emission-line galaxies with no particularity (except a few Seyferts), leading to the suspicion that most of the Alerts were due to a SN. As for the GNT list, we found 55 associated spectra labelled as galaxies, among them 13 with multi-epoch spectra. In these two galaxy samples, in only two cases, Gaia17aal and GNTJ170213+2543, was the date of the spectroscopic observation close enough to the Alert date: we find a trace of the SN itself in their LAMOST spectrum, both being now classified here as a type Ia SN. Compared to the galaxy sample from the Gaia alerts, the GNT sample has a higher proportion of AGNs, suggesting that some of the detected variations are also due to the AGN itself. Similarly for Quasars, we found only 30 Gaia Alerts but 68 GNT cases associated with single epoch quasar spectra in the databases. In addition to those, 12 plus 23 are quasars where multi-epoch spectra are available. For ten out of these 35, their multi-epoch spectra show appearance or disappearance of the broad Balmer lines and also variations in the continuum, qualifying them as "Changing Look Quasars" and therefore significantly increasing the available sample of such objects.

Dates and versions

insu-03748060 , version 1 (09-08-2022)



Z. Huo, M. Dennefeld, X. Liu, T. Pursimo, T. Zhang. Characterizing some Gaia Alerts with LAMOST and SDSS. Astrophysics and Space Science, 2020, 365, ⟨10.1007/s10509-020-03804-7⟩. ⟨insu-03748060⟩
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