The space density of compton-thick active galactic nucleus and the X-ray background.
TREISTER E., URRY C.M. and VIRANI S.
Abstract (from CDS):
We constrain the number density and evolution of Compton-thick (CT) active galactic nuclei (AGNs). In the local universe, we use the wide-area surveys from the Swift and INTEGRAL satellites, while for high redshifts we explore candidate selections based on a combination of X-ray and mid-infrared (mid-IR) parameters. We find a significantly lower space density of CT AGNs in the local universe than expected from published AGN population synthesis models to explain the X-ray background (XRB). This can be explained by the numerous degeneracies in the parameters of those models; we use the high-energy surveys described here to remove those degeneracies. We show that only direct observations of CT AGNs can currently constrain the number of heavily obscured supermassive black holes. At high redshift, the inclusion of IR-selected CT AGN candidates leads to a much higher space density, implying (1) a different (steeper) evolution for these sources compared to less-obscured AGNs, (2) that the IR selection includes a large number of interlopers, and/or (3) that there is a large number of reflection-dominated AGNs missed in the INTEGRAL and Swift observations. The contribution of CT AGN to the XRB is small, ∼9%, with a comparable contribution to the total cosmic accretion, unless reflection-dominated CT AGNs significantly outnumber transmission-dominated CT AGNs, in which case their contribution can be much higher. Using estimates derived here for the accretion luminosity over cosmic time, we estimate the local mass density in supermassive black holes and find a good agreement with available constraints for an accretion efficiency of ∼10%. Transmission-dominated CT AGNs contribute only ∼8% to total black hole growth.