We present optical spectroscopic observations of the least-luminous known Seyfert 1 galaxy, NGC 4395, which was monitored every half-hour over the course of three nights. The continuum emission varied by ~35 per cent over the course of three nights and we find marginal evidence for greater variability in the blue continuum than the red. A number of diagnostic checks were performed on the data in order to constrain any systematic or aperture effects. No correlations were found that adequately explained the observed variability, hence we conclude that we have observed real intrinsic variability of the nuclear source. No simultaneous variability was measured in the broad Hβ line, although given the difficulty in deblending the broad and narrow components it is difficult to comment on the significance of this result. The observed short time-scale continuum variability is consistent with NGC 4395 having an intermediate-mass (~105Msolar) central supermassive black hole, rather than a very low accretion rate. Comparison with the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 5548 shows that the observed variability seems to scale with black hole mass in roughly the manner expected in accretion models. However, the absolute time-scale of variability differs by several orders of magnitude from that expected in simple accretion disc models in both cases.
- galaxies: individual: NGC 4395
- galaxies: active
- galaxies: Seyfert