Astrophys. J., 708, 584-597 (2010/January-1)
A comparison of X-ray and mid-infrared selection of obscured active galactic nuclei.
ECKART M.E., McGREER I.D., STERN D., HARRISON F.A. and HELFAND D.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We compare the relative merits of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) selection at X-ray and mid-infrared wavelengths using data from moderately deep fields observed by both Chandra and Spitzer. The X-ray-selected AGN sample and associated photometric and spectroscopic optical follow-up are drawn from a subset of fields studied as part of the Serendipitous Extragalactic X-ray Source Identification (SEXSI) program. Mid-infrared data in these fields are derived from targeted and archival Spitzer imaging, and mid-infrared AGN selection is accomplished primarily through application of the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) color-color AGN "wedge" selection technique. Nearly all X-ray sources in these fields which exhibit clear spectroscopic signatures of AGN activity have mid-infrared colors consistent with IRAC AGN selection. These are predominantly the most luminous X-ray sources. X-ray sources that lack high-ionization and/or broad lines in their optical spectra are far less likely to be selected as AGNs by mid-infrared color selection techniques. The fraction of X-ray sources identified as AGNs in the mid-infrared increases monotonically as the X-ray luminosity increases. Conversely, only 22% of mid-infrared-selected AGNs are detected at X-ray energies in the moderately deep (exp> ~ 100 ks) SEXSI Chandra data. We hypothesize that IRAC sources with AGN colors that lack X-ray detections are predominantly high-luminosity AGNs that are obscured and/or lie at high redshift. A stacking analysis of X-ray-undetected sources shows that objects in the mid-infrared AGN selection wedge have average X-ray fluxes in the 2-8 keV band 3 times higher than sources that fall outside the wedge. Their X-ray spectra are also harder. The hardness ratio of the wedge-selected stack is consistent with moderate intrinsic obscuration, but is not suggestive of a highly obscured, Compton-thick source population. It is evident from this comparative study that in order to create a complete, unbiased census of supermassive black hole growth and evolution, a combination of sensitive infrared, X-ray, and hard X-ray selection is required. We conclude by discussing what samples will be provided by upcoming survey missions such as WISE, eROSITA, and NuSTAR.
galaxies: active - infrared: galaxies - X-rays: galaxies
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<Available at CDS (J/ApJ/708/584): table2.dat>
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