Broad emission lines hold fundamental clues about the kinematics and structure of the central regions in AGN. In this article we review the most robust line profile properties and correlations emerging from the best data available. We identify fundamental differences between the profiles of radio-quiet and radio-loud sources as well as differences between the high- and low-ionization lines, especially in the radio-quiet majority of AGN. An Eigenvector 1 correlation space involving FWHM Hβ, W(FeII)/W(Hβ), and the soft X-ray spectral index provides optimal discrimination between all principal AGN types (from narrow-line Seyfert 1 to radio galaxies). Both optical and radio continuum luminosities appear to be uncorrelated with the E1 parameters. We identify two populations of radio-quiet AGN: Population A sources (with FWHM(Hβ) 4000 km s−1, generally strong FeII emission and a soft X-ray excess) show almost no parameter space overlap with radio-loud sources. Population B shows optical properties largely indistinguishable from radio-loud sources, including usually weak FeII emission, FWHM(Hβ) 4000 km s−1 and lack of a soft X-ray excess. There is growing evidence that a fundamental parameter underlying Eigenvector 1 may be the luminosity-to-mass ratio of the active nucleus (L/M), with source orientation playing a concomitant role.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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