Journal Article

On the apparent absence of broad iron lines in Seyfert galaxies

S. Bhayani and K. Nandra

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 1, pages 629-636
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
On the apparent absence of broad iron lines in Seyfert galaxies

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We present an analysis of XMM–Newton observations of 11 Seyfert galaxies that appear to be missing a broad iron Kα line. These objects represent a challenge to the established paradigm for active galactic nuclei, where a relatively cold accretion disc feeds the central black hole. In that paradigm, X-ray illumination of the accretion disc should lead to continuum and fluorescence emission from iron which is broadened and shifted by relativistic effects close to the hole. We extend the work of Nandra et al., who found no evidence for such a component in an earlier analysis of these objects, by testing a variety of more complex relativistic reflection models. Specifically, we consider the possibility that the disc is highly ionized, and/or that the reflection is heavily blurred by strong relativistic effects in a Kerr geometry. We find that in 8/11 of the observations with no apparent broad iron line, the fit is significantly improved when an ionized or strongly blurred reflector is included, and that all 11 observations allow for such a component. The disc inclinations are found generally to be around 60°, which when combined with a steep emissivity profile results in strong relativistic blurring of the reflection, rendering the Kα line difficult to distinguish from the underlying continuum. Nevertheless, relativistic reflection does appear to be present, and the strength of the smeared reflection is similar to that expected from a flat disc illuminated by a point source. Such blurred reflection and the associated steep radial emissivity profiles are consistent with the gravitational light bending of the continuum photons close to the black hole.

Keywords: galaxies: active; galaxies: Seyfert; X-rays: galaxies

Journal Article.  5507 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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