Update on the X-ray variability plane for active galactic nuclei: the role of the obscuration.
Abstract (from CDS):
Scaling relations are the most powerful astrophysical tools to set constraints on the physical mechanisms of astronomical sources and to infer properties that cannot be accessed directly. We reinvestigate here one of these scaling relations in active galactic nuclei (AGNs); the so-called X-ray variability plane (or mass-luminosity timescale relation). This relation links the power-spectral density (PSD) break frequency with the super-massive black hole (SMBH) mass and the bolometric luminosity. We used the available XMM-Newton observations of a sample of 22 AGNs to study the PSD and spectra in short segments within each observation. This allows us to report for the first time that the PSD break frequency varies for each object, showing variations in 19 out of the 22 AGNs analyzed. Our analysis of the variability plane confirms the relation between the break frequency and the SMBH mass and finds that the obscuration along the line of sight NH (or the variations on the obscuration using its standard deviation, ΔNH) is also a required parameter, at least for the range of frequencies analyzed here (∼3×10–5-5×10–2Hz). We constrain a new variability plane of the following form: log(νBreak)=(-0.589±0.005)log(MBH)+(0.10±0.01)log(NH)-(1.5±0.3) (or log(νBreak)=(-0.549±0.009)log(MBH)+(0.56±0.06)ΔNH+(0.19±0.08)). The X-ray variability plane found by McHardy et al. is roughly recovered when we use unobscured segments. We speculate that this behavior is well explained if most of the reported frequencies are related to inner clouds (within 1 pc), following Kepler orbits under the gravitational field of the SMBH.