Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 442, 2116-2130 (2014/August-2)
Search for X-ray occultations in active galactic nuclei.
TORRICELLI-CIAMPONI G., PIETRINI P., RISALITI G. and SALVATI M.
Abstract (from CDS):
Recent time-resolved spectral studies of a few active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in hard X-rays revealed occultations of the X-ray primary source probably by broad-line region (BLR) clouds. An important open question on the structure of the circumnuclear medium of AGN is whether this phenomenon is common, i.e. whether a significant fraction of the X-ray absorption in AGN is due to BLR clouds. Here, we present the first attempt to perform this kind of analysis in a homogeneous way, on a statistically representative sample of AGN, consisting of the ∼ 40 brightest sources with long XMM-Newton and/or Suzaku observations. We describe our method, based on a simple analysis of hardness-ratio light curves, and its validation through a complete spectroscopic analysis of a few cases. We find that X-ray eclipses, most probably due to clouds at the distance of the BLR, are common in sources where the expected occultation time is compatible with the observation time, while they are not found in sources with longer estimated occultation times. Overall, our results show that occultations by BLR clouds may be responsible for most of the observed X-ray spectral variability at energies higher than 2 keV, on time-scales longer than a few ks.
© 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society (2014)
galaxies: active - galaxies: Seyfert - X-rays: galaxies
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