A near-infrared relationship for estimating black hole masses in active galactic nuclei
Black hole masses for samples of active galactic nuclei (AGN) are currently estimated from single-epoch optical spectra using scaling relations anchored in reverberation mapping results. In particular, the two quantities needed for calculating black hole masses, namely, the velocity and the radial distance of the orbiting gas are derived from the widths of the Balmer hydrogen broad emission lines and the optical continuum luminosity, respectively. We have recently presented a near-infrared (near-IR) relationship for estimating AGN black hole masses based on the widths of the Paschen hydrogen broad emission lines and the total 1 micron continuum luminosity. The near-IR offers several advantages over the optical: it suffers less from dust extinction, the AGN continuum is observed only weakly contaminated by the host galaxy and the strongest Paschen broad emission lines Pa alpha and Pa beta are unblended. Here we improve the calibration of the near-IR black hole mass relationship by increasing the sample from 14 to 23 reverberation-mapped AGN using additional spectroscopy obtained with the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS). The additional sample improves the number statistics in particular at the high luminosity end.