Monday, June 17, 2013

1306.3404 (L. C. Gallo et al.)

The origin of blue-shifted absorption features in the X-ray spectrum of PG 1211+143: Outflow or disc?    [PDF]

L. C. Gallo, A. C. Fabian
In some radio-quiet active galaxies (AGN), high-energy absorption features in the x-ray spectra have been interpreted as Ultrafast Outflows (UFOs) -- highly ionised material (e.g. Fe XXV and Fe XXVI) ejected at mildly relativistic velocities. In some cases, these outflows can carry energy in excess of the binding energy of the host galaxy. Needless to say, these features demand our attention as they are strong signatures of AGN feedback and will influence galaxy evolution. For the same reason, alternative models need to be discussed and refuted or confirmed. Gallo & Fabian proposed that some of these features could arise from resonance absorption of the reflected spectrum in a layer of ionised material located above and corotating with the accretion disc. Therefore, the absorbing medium would be subjected to similar blurring effects as seen in the disc. A priori, the existence of such plasma above the disc is as plausible as a fast wind. In this work, we highlight the ambiguity by demonstrating that the absorption model can describe the ~7.6 keV absorption feature (and possibly other features) in the quasar PG 1211+143, an AGN that is often described as a classic example of an UFO. In this model, the 2-10 keV spectrum would be largely reflection dominated (as opposed to power law dominated in the wind models) and the resonance absorption would be originating in a layer between about 6 and 60 gravitational radii. The studies of such features constitutes a cornerstone for future X-ray observatories like Astro-H and Athena+. Should our model prove correct, or at least important in some cases, then absorption will provide another diagnostic tool with which to probe the inner accretion flow with future missions.
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