199 research outputs found

    NuSTAR observations of heavily obscured Swift/BAT AGN: constraints on the Compton-thick AGN fraction

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    The all-sky hard X-ray survey performed by Swift/BAT allowed the detection of many heavily obscured Compton-thick AGN. In our previous work, we have identified more than 50 candidate Compton-thick AGN in the local Universe, corresponding to an observed fraction of about 7% of the total AGN population. This number can be converted to the intrinsic Compton-thick AGN number density, only if we know the form of the Compton-thick AGN spectrum, that is the energy of their absorption turnover, photon-index and its cut-off energy at high energies, as well as the strength of the reflection component on the matter surrounding the nucleus. In order to constrain their number density, we analyse the spectra of 19 Compton-thick AGN which have been detected with Swift/BAT and have been subsequently observed with NuSTAR in the 3-80 keV band. We analyse their X-ray spectra using the MYTORUS models of Murphy and Yaqoob which properly take into account the Compton scattering effects. These are combined with physically motivated Comptonisation models which accurately describe the primary coronal X-ray emission. We derive absorbing column densities which are consistent with those derived by the previous Swift/BAT analyses. We estimate the coronal temperatures to be roughly between 25 and 80 keV corresponding to high energy cut-offs roughly between 75 and 250 keV. We find that the majority of our AGN lacks a strong reflection component in the 20-40 keV band placing tighter constraints on the intrinsic Compton-thick AGN fraction. Combining these results with our X-ray background synthesis models, we estimate a Compton-thick AGN fraction in the local Universe of ~20 +/-3 % relative to the type-II AGN population.Comment: Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysic

    Comparison between the Luminosity functions of X-ray and [OIII] selected AGN

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    We investigate claims according to which the X-ray selection of AGN is not as efficient compared to that based on [OIII] selection because of the effects of X-ray absorption.We construct the predicted X-ray luminosity function both for all Seyferts as well as separately for Seyfert-1 and Seyfert-2 type galaxies, by combining the optical AGN [OIII] luminosity functions derived in SDSS with the corresponding L_X-L_[OIII] relations. These relations are derived from XMM-Newton observations of all Seyfert galaxies in the Palomar spectroscopic sample of nearby galaxies after correction for X-ray absorption and optical reddening. We compare the predicted X-ray luminosity functions with those actually observed in the local Universe by HEAO-1, RXTE as well as INTEGRAL. The last luminosity function is derived in the 17-60 keV region and thus is not affected by absorption even in the case of Compton-thick sources. In the common luminosity regions, the optically and X-ray selected Seyfert galaxies show reasonable agreement. We thus find no evidence that the [OIII] selection provides a more robust tracer of powerful AGN compared to the X-ray. Still, the optical selection probes less luminous Seyferts compared to the current X-ray surveys. These low luminosity levels, are populated by a large number of X-ray unobscured Seyfert-2 galaxies.Comment: 7 pages to appear in Astronomy & Astrophysic

    The angular correlation function of the ROSAT All Sky Survey Bright Source Catalogue

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    We have derived the angular correlation function of a sample of 2096 sources detected in the ROSAT All Sky Survey Bright Source Catalogue, in order to investigate the clustering properties of AGN in the local Universe. Our sample is constructed by rejecting all known stars, as well as extended X-ray sources. Areas with |b|<30 deg. and declination <-30 deg. are also rejected due to the high or uncertain neutral hydrogen absorption. Cross-correlation of our sample with the Hamburg/RASS optical identification catalogue, suggests that the vast majority of our sources are indeed AGN. A 4.1 sigma correlation signal between 0 and 8 degrees was detected with w(theta<8 deg.)=0.025 +- 0.006. Assuming the usual power-law form of the 2-point correlation function we find an angular correlationlength of 0.062 degrees. Deprojection on 3 dimensions, using the Limber's equation, yields a spatial correlation length of 6.0+- 1.6 h^-1 Mpc. This is consistent with the AGN clustering results derived at higher redshifts in optical surveys and suggests a comoving model for the clustering evolution.Comment: 5 pages, revised version accepted in MNRA

    Constraining the fraction of Compton-thick AGN in the Universe by modelling the diffuse X-ray background spectrum

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    This paper investigates what constraints can be placed on the fraction of Compton-thick (CT) AGN in the Universe from the modeling of the spectrum of the diffuse X-ray background (XRB). We present a model for the synthesis of the XRB that uses as input a library of AGN X-ray spectra generated by the Monte Carlo simulations described by Brightman & Nandra. This is essential to account for the Compton scattering of X-ray photons in a dense medium and the impact of that process on the spectra of obscured AGN. We identify a small number of input parameters to the XRB synthesis code which encapsulate the minimum level of uncertainty in reconstructing the XRB spectrum. These are the power-law index and high energy cutoff of the intrinsic X-ray spectra of AGN, the level of the reflection component in AGN spectra and the fraction of CT AGN in the Universe. We then map the volume of the space allowed to these parameters by current observations of the XRB spectrum in the range 3-100 keV. One of the least constrained parameters is the fraction of CT AGN. Statistically acceptable fits to the XRB spectrum at the 68% confidence level can be obtained for CT fractions in the range 5-50%. This is because of degeneracies among input parameters to the XRB synthesis code and uncertainties in the modeling of AGN spectra (e.g. reflection). The most promising route for constraining the fraction of CT AGN in the Universe is via the direct detection of those sources in high energy (>10keV) surveys. It is shown that the observed fraction of CT sources identified in the SWIFT/BAT survey, limits the intrinsic fraction of CT AGN, at least at low redshift, to 10-20% (68% confidence level). We also make predictions on the number density of CT sources that current and future X-ray missions are expected to discover. Testing those predictions will constrain the intrinsic fraction of CT AGN as a function of redshift.Comment: To appear in A&

    The source number counts at high energies: SWIFT vs. NuSTAR

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    The hard X-ray sky at energies above 10 keV, has been extensively explored by the Swift and the NuSTAR missions in the 14-195 keV and the 3-24 keV bands respectively. The major population of the hard X-ray detected sources are AGN. We compare the number count distributions derived from the swift 105-month catalogue with those from the serendipitous NuSTAR source catalogue. In the 14-195 keV band, the Swift/BAT counts follow a Euclidean slope with alpha=1.51+/-0.10 (90% confidence level). The NuSTAR counts in the 8-24 keV band present a steeper slope with alpha = 1.71+/- 0.2$, because of an upturn at fluxes below ~2x10^{-13} erg/cm2/s. The same upturn is observed in the soft (3-8 keV) NuSTAR number counts, which in overall also present a steep slope with alpha = 1.82+/- 0.15. Only the bright part of the NuSTAR 3-8 keV counts agrees with the chandra number counts in the 2-10 keV band while the fainter part (<7x10^{-13} erg/cm2/s ) of the soft NuSTAR counts is in marked disagreement with the chandra counts. Next, we compare the derived number counts in the different bands using our X-ray AGN population synthesis models. The comparison between the Chandra and the Swift/BAT number counts shows a very good agreement for the 'standard' AGN spectrum with a power-law slope Gamma=1.9, a high energy cut-off at ~130 keV and a 2-10 keV reflection component of 3%. On the other hand, using the above standard AGN spectral model, only the bright part of the NuSTAR 8-24 keV and 3-8 keV number counts, agree with the model predictions. Then it is most likely that the disagreement between the X-ray number counts in the different bands is because of the faint NuSTAR number counts. We discuss various possibilities for the origin of this disagreement.Comment: To appear in Astronomy & Astrophysic

    X-ray selected Infrared Excess AGN in the Chandra Deep Fields: a moderate fraction of Compton-thick sources

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    We examine the properties of the X-ray detected, Infrared Excess AGN or Dust Obscured Galaxies (DOGs) in the Chandra Deep Fields (CDF). We find 26 X-ray selected sources which obey the 24 micron to R-band flux ratio criterion f_24/f_R>1000. These are at a median redshift of 2.3 while their IR luminosities are above 10^12 solar. Their X-ray luminosities are all above a few times 10^42 erg s-1 in the 2-10 keV band unambiguously arguing that these host AGN. Nevertheless, their IR Spectral Energy Distributions are split between AGN (Mrk231) and star-forming templates (Arp220). Our primary goal is to examine their individual X-ray spectra in order to assess whether this X-ray detected DOG population contains heavily obscured or even Compton-thick sources. The X-ray spectroscopy reveals a mixed bag of objects. We find that four out of the 12 sources with adequate photon statistics and hence reliable X-ray spectra, show evidence for a hard X-ray spectral index (~1) or harder,consistent with a Compton-thick spectrum. In total 12 out of the 26 DOGs show evidence for flat spectral indices. However, owing to the limited photon statistics we cannot differentiate whether these are flat because they are reflection-dominated or because they show moderate amounts of absorption. Seven DOGs show relatively steep spectra (>1.4) indicative of small column densities. All the above suggest a fraction of Compton-thick sources that does not exceed 5%. The average X-ray spectrum of all 26 DOGs is hard (~1.1) or even harder (~0.6) when we exclude the brightest sources. These spectral indices are well in agreement with the stacked spectrum of X-ray undetected sources (~0.8 in the CDFN). This could suggest (but not necessarily prove) that X-ray undetected DOGs, in a similar fashion to the X-ray detected ones presented here, are hosting a moderate fraction of Compton-thick sources.Comment: 16 pages To appear in A&

    Compton Thick AGN in the 70 Month Swift-BAT All-Sky Hard X-ray Survey: a Bayesian approach

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    The 70-month Swift/BAT catalogue provides a sensitive view of the extragalactic X-ray sky at hard energies (>10 keV) containing about 800 Active Galactic Nuclei. We explore its content in heavily obscured, Compton-thick AGN by combining the BAT (14-195 keV) with the lower energy XRT (0.3-10 keV) data. We apply a Bayesian methodology using Markov chains to estimate the exact probability distribution of the column density for each source. We find 53 possible Compton-thick sources (with probability 3 to 100%) translating to a ~7% fraction of the AGN in our sample. We derive the first parametric luminosity function of Compton-thick AGN. The unabsorbed luminosity function can be represented by a double power-law with a break at L2×1042L_{\star} 2 \times 10^{42} ergs s1\rm ergs~s^{-1} in the 20-40 keV band.Comment: 13 pages, 9 figure

    Chandra and Spitzer observations of CDFS X-ray obscured QSOs

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    We present Chandra and Spitzer data of the 186, extragalactic, hard 2-10 keV X-ray selected sources, which lie in the central part of the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). For the vast majority of sources (99.5%) there is a spectroscopic or photometric redshift available. We classify 17 sources as X-ray obscured QSOs, according to strictly X-ray criteria, i.e. defined as having large hydrogen column densities (N_H>10^22 cgs) and luminosities (Lx>10^44 cgs). The surface density of X-ray obscured QSOs is ~210 sq. deg. We find 18 candidate Compton thick N_H>10^24 cgs sources, of which three have QSO luminosities (L_x>10^44 cgs). The X-ray obscured QSO comprise a mixed bag of objects, covering the redshift range z=1.3-4.3. Eight of these show narrow line optical spectra, two show no obscuration in their optical spectra presenting Broad Lines, while for the other seven there is only a photometric redshift available. About half of the X-ray obscured QSOs show high X-ray to optical flux ratios, X/O>1, and red colours, I-3.6>4. Combination of the X-ray with the mid-IR 8 or 24 micron flux can be used as an additional diagnostic to sift out the heavily obscured AGN. All X-ray selected QSOs present red mid-IR colours and can be easily separated among mid-IR sources, demonstrating that mid-IR selection provides a powerful tool for the detection of obscured QSOs

    Red AGN in XMM-Newton/SDSS fields

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    In this paper we combine archival and proprietary XMM-Newton observations (about 5deg^2) that overlap with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to explore the nature of the moderate-z X-ray population. We focus on X-ray sources with optically red colours (g-r>0.4), which we argue are important for understanding the origin of the X-ray background. Firstly, these systems constitute a significant fraction, about 2/3, of the z<1 X-ray population to the limit f(2-8keV)~2e-14cgs. Secondly, their luminosity function under evolution of the form ~(1+z)^3 suggests that they could be responsible for about 17 per cent of the diffuse X-ray background to z=1. Thirdly, their stacked X-ray spectrum in the range 1-8keV is consistent with a power-law distribution with Gamma~1.4 (without fitting intrinsic absorption), i.e. similar to the diffuse X-ray background. We find that the optically red X-ray population comprises a mixed bag of objects, both obscured (N_H>1e22 cm^{-2}) and unobscured (N_H<1e22 cm^{-2}), with a wide range of X-ray luminosities up L_X~1e44cgs. We argue that dilution of the AGN light by the host galaxy may play a role in shaping the continuum optical emission of this population. Finally, we explore a possible association of these sources and the moderate-z red (J-Ks>2mag) AGNs identified in the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). The median N_H of the red X-ray sources studied here is ~1e21cm^{-2}, lower than that found for the 2MASS AGNs, suggesting different populations.Comment: Accepted by MNRA
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