This paper presents a comprehensive examination of the X-ray continuum variability of the bright Seyfert 1 galaxy MCG-6-30-15. The source clearly shows the strong, linear correlation between rms variability amplitude and flux first seen in Galactic X-ray binaries. The high-frequency power spectral density (PSD) of MCG-6-30-15 is examined in detail using a Monte Carlo fitting procedure and is found to be well represented by a steep power law at high frequencies (with a power-law index α≈ 2.5), breaking to a flatter slope (α≈ 1) below fbr≈ 0.6–2.0 × 10−4 Hz, consistent with the previous results of Uttley, McHardy & Papadakis. The slope of the power spectrum above the break is energy dependent, with the higher energies showing a flatter PSD. At low frequencies the variations between different energy bands are highly coherent, while at high frequencies the coherence is significantly reduced. Time lags are detected between energy bands, with the soft variations leading the hard ones. The magnitude of the lag is small (≲200 s for the frequencies observed) and is most likely frequency dependent. These properties are remarkably similar to the temporal properties of the Galactic black hole candidate Cygnus X-1. The characteristic time-scales in these two types of source differ by ∼105; assuming that these time-scales scale linearly with black hole mass then suggests a black hole mass ∼106 M⊙ for MCG-6-30-15. We speculate that the timing properties of MCG-6-30-15 may be analogous to those of Cyg X-1 in its high/soft state and discuss a simple phenomenological model, originally developed to explain the timing properties of Cyg X-1, which can explain many of the observed properties of MCG-6-30-15
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