Astrophys. J., 774, 29 (2013/September-1)
X-ray absorption of high-redshift quasars.
EITAN A. and BEHAR E.
Abstract (from CDS):
The soft X-ray photoelectric absorption of high-z quasars has been known for two decades, but has no unambiguous astrophysical context. We construct the largest sample to date of 58 high-redshift quasars (z > 0.45) selected from the XMM-Newton archive based on a high photon count criterion (>1800). We measure the optical depth τ at 0.5 keV and find that 43% of the quasars show significant absorption. We aim to find which physical parameters of the quasars, e.g., redshift, radio luminosity, radio loudness, or X-ray luminosity, drive their observed absorption. We compare the absorption behavior with redshift with the pattern expected if the diffuse intergalactic medium (IGM) is responsible for the observed absorption. We also compare the absorption with a comparison sample of gamma-ray burst (GRB) X-ray afterglows. Although the z > 2 quasar opacity is consistent with diffuse IGM absorption, many intermediate-z (0.45 < z < 2) quasars are not sufficiently absorbed for this scenario, and are appreciably less absorbed than GRBs. Only 10/37 quasars at z < 2 are absorbed, and only 5/30 radio-quiet quasars are absorbed. We find a weak correlation between τ and z, and an even weaker correlation between τ and radio luminosity. These findings lead to the conclusion that although a diffuse IGM origin for the quasar absorption is unlikely, the optical depth does seem to increase with redshift, roughly as (1 + z)^2.2 ±0.6^, tending to τ ~ 0.4 at high redshifts, similar to the high-z GRBs. This result can be explained by an ionized and clumpy IGM at z < 2, and a cold, diffuse IGM at higher redshift. If, conversely, the absorption occurs at the quasar, and owing to the steep Lx∝(1 + z)^7.1 ± 0.5^ correlation in the present sample, the host column density scales as NH ∝ Lx0.7±0.1.
cosmology: observations - galaxies: high-redshift - quasars: general - X-rays: galaxies: clusters
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