X-Ray studies of the physics of matter around super-massive black-holes in nearby Seyfert galaxies

Dadina, Mauro (2009) X-Ray studies of the physics of matter around super-massive black-holes in nearby Seyfert galaxies, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Astronomia, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/1465.
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Seyfert galaxies are the closest active galactic nuclei. As such, we can use them to test the physical properties of the entire class of objects. To investigate their general properties, I took advantage of different methods of data analysis. In particular I used three different samples of objects, that, despite frequent overlaps, have been chosen to best tackle different topics: the heterogeneous BeppoS AX sample was thought to be optimized to test the average hard X-ray (E above 10 keV) properties of nearby Seyfert galaxies; the X-CfA was thought the be optimized to compare the properties of low-luminosity sources to the ones of higher luminosity and, thus, it was also used to test the emission mechanism models; finally, the XMM–Newton sample was extracted from the X-CfA sample so as to ensure a truly unbiased and well defined sample of objects to define the average properties of Seyfert galaxies. Taking advantage of the broad-band coverage of the BeppoS AX MECS and PDS instruments (between ~2-100 keV), I infer the average X-ray spectral propertiesof nearby Seyfert galaxies and in particular the photon index (<Gamma>~1.8), the high-energy cut-off (<Ec>~290 keV), and the relative amount of cold reflection (<R>~1.0). Moreover the unified scheme for active galactic nuclei was positively tested. The distribution of isotropic indicators used here (photon index, relative amount of reflection, high-energy cut-off and narrow FeK energy centroid) are similar in type I and type II objects while the absorbing column and the iron line equivalent width significantly differ between the two classes of sources with type II objects displaying larger absorbing columns. Taking advantage of the XMM–Newton and X–CfA samples I also deduced from measurements that 30 to 50% of type II Seyfert galaxies are Compton thick. Confirming previous results, the narrow FeK line is consistent, in Seyfert 2 galaxies, with being produced in the same matter responsible for the observed obscuration. These results support the basic picture of the unified model. Moreover, the presence of a X-ray Baldwin effect in type I sources has been measured using for the first time the 20-100 keV luminosity (EW proportional to L(20-100)^(−0.22±0.05)). This finding suggests that the torus covering factor may be a function of source luminosity, thereby suggesting a refinement of the baseline version of the unifed model itself. Using the BeppoSAX sample, it has been also recorded a possible correlation between the photon index and the amount of cold reflection in both type I and II sources. At a first glance this confirms the thermal Comptonization as the most likely origin of the high energy emission for the active galactic nuclei. This relation, in fact, naturally emerges supposing that the accretion disk penetrates, depending to the accretion rate, the central corona at different depths (Merloni et al. 2006): the higher accreting systems hosting disks down to the last stable orbit while the lower accreting systems hosting truncated disks. On the contrary, the study of the well defined X–C f A sample of Seyfert galaxies has proved that the intrinsic X-ray luminosity of nearby Seyfert galaxies can span values between 10^(38−43) erg s^−1, i.e. covering a huge range of accretion rates. The less efficient systems have been supposed to host ADAF systems without accretion disk. However, the study of the X–CfA sample has also proved the existence of correlations between optical emission lines and X-ray luminosity in the entire range of L_(X) covered by the sample. These relations are similar to the ones obtained if high-L objects are considered. Thus the emission mechanism must be similar in luminous and weak systems. A possible scenario to reconcile these somehow opposite indications is assuming that the ADAF and the two phase mechanism co-exist with different relative importance moving from low-to-high accretion systems (as suggested by the Gamma vs. R relation). The present data require that no abrupt transition between the two regimes is present. As mentioned above, the possible presence of an accretion disk has been tested using samples of nearby Seyfert galaxies. Here, to deeply investigate the flow patterns close to super-massive black-holes, three case study objects for which enough counts statistics is available have been analysed using deep X-ray observations taken with XMM–Newton. The obtained results have shown that the accretion flow can significantly differ between the objects when it is analyzed with the appropriate detail. For instance the accretion disk is well established down to the last stable orbit in a Kerr system for IRAS 13197-1627 where strong light bending effect have been measured. The accretion disk seems to be formed spiraling in the inner ~10-30 gravitational radii in NGC 3783 where time dependent and recursive modulation have been measured both in the continuum emission and in the broad emission line component. Finally, the accretion disk seems to be only weakly detectable in rk 509, with its weak broad emission line component. Finally, blueshifted resonant absorption lines have been detected in all three objects. This seems to demonstrate that, around super-massive black-holes, there is matter which is not confined in the accretion disk and moves along the line of sight with velocities as large as v~0.01-0.4c (whre c is the speed of light). Wether this matter forms winds or blobs is still matter of debate together with the assessment of the real statistical significance of the measured absorption lines. Nonetheless, if confirmed, these phenomena are of outstanding interest because they offer new potential probes for the dynamics of the innermost regions of accretion flows, to tackle the formation of ejecta/jets and to place constraints on the rate of kinetic energy injected by AGNs into the ISM and IGM. Future high energy missions (such as the planned Simbol-X and IXO) will likely allow an exciting step forward in our understanding of the flow dynamics around black holes and the formation of the highest velocity outflows.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Dadina, Mauro
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze matematiche, fisiche ed astronomiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
7 Aprile 2009

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