Iron Kα emission in type-I and type-II active galactic nuclei

C. Ricci, Y. Ueda, S. Paltani, K. Ichikawa, P. Gandhi, H. Awaki

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66 Citations (Scopus)


The narrow Fe Kα line is one of the main signatures of the reprocessing of X-ray radiation from the material surrounding supermassive black holes, and it has been found to be omnipresent in the X-ray spectra of active galactic nuclei (AGN). In this work, we study the characteristics of the narrow Fe Kα line in different types of AGN. Using the results of a large Suzaku study, we find that Seyfert 2s have on average lower Fe Kα luminosities than Seyfert 1s for the same 10- 50 keV continuum luminosity. Simulating dummy Seyfert 1s and Seyfert 2s populations using physical torus models of X-ray reflected emission, we find that this difference can be explained by means of different average inclination angles with respect to the torus, as predicted by the unified model. Alternative explanations include differences in the intensities of Compton humps, in the photon index distributions or in the average iron abundances. We show that the ratio between the flux of the broad and narrow Fe Kα line in the 6.35-6.45 keV range depends on the torus geometry considered, and is on average <25 per cent and <15 per cent for type-I and type-II AGN, respectively. We find evidence of absorption of the narrow Fe Kα line flux in Compton-thick AGN, which suggests that part of the reflecting material is obscured. We estimate that on average in obscured AGN the reflected radiation from neutral material is seen through a column density which is 1/4 of that absorbing the primary X-ray emission. This should be taken into account in synthesis models of the CXB and when studying the luminosity function of heavily obscured AGN.We detect the first evidence of the X-ray Baldwin effect in Seyfert 2s, with the same slope as that found for Seyfert 1s, which suggests that themechanism responsible for the decrease of the equivalent width with the continuum luminosity is the same in the two classes of objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3622-3633
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun


  • Galaxies: Seyfert
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Quasars: general
  • X-rays: diffuse background
  • X-rays: galaxies


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