Date of this Version
AGN Variability from X-rays to Radio Waves, ASP Conference Series, Vol. 390, 2006
arXiv:astro-ph/0701005v1 30 Dec 2006
We report on the relative optical variability of the three brightest nearby quasars, 3C 273, PDS 456, and PHL 1811. All three have comparable absolute magnitudes, but PDS 456 and PHL 1811 are radio quiet. PDS 456 is a broadline object, but PHL 1811 could be classified as a high-luminosity Narrow-Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1). Both of the radio-quiet quasars show significant variability on a timescale of a few days. The seasonal rms V-band variability amplitudes of 3C 273 and PDS 456 are indistinguishable, and the seasonal rms variability amplitude of PHL 1811 was only exceeded by 3C 273 once in 30 years of monitoring. We find no evidence that the optical variability of 3C 273 is greater than or more rapid than the variability of the comparably-bright, radio-quiet quasars. This suggests that not only do radio-loud and radio-quiet AGNs have similar spectral energy distributions, but that the variability mechanisms are also similar. The optical variability of 3C 273 is not dominated by a “blazar” component.