EDP Sciences
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Volume 384, Number 3, March IV 2002
Page(s) 793 - 798
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020082

A&A 384, 793-798 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020082

An X-ray view of the active nucleus in NGC 4258

W. Pietsch1 and A. M. Read1, 2

1  Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, 85741 Garching, Germany
2  School of Physics & Astronomy, University Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

(Received 20 November 2001 / Accepted 16 January 2002 )

XMM-Newton observed the Seyfert 1.9 galaxy NGC 4258 in December 2000. At energies above 2 keV a hard nuclear point source is resolved that can be fitted by a highly absorbed power-law spectrum (= ( $8.0\pm 0.4$) $\,\times\,10^{22}$ cm -2, photon index $1.64\pm 0.08$) with an unabsorbed luminosity of 7.5 $\times10^{40}$  in the (2-10) keV band. No narrow iron K $\alpha$ emission line is detected (90% upper limit of equivalent width $EW \sim 40$ eV). The nuclear emission flux was observed to remain constant over the observation. A short archival Chandra  observation taken in March 2000 further constrains the hard emission to a point source coincident with the radio nucleus. A point source ~3´´ southwest of the nucleus does not contribute significantly. Spectral results of the Chandra nuclear source are comparable (within the limited statistics) to the XMM-Newton parameters. The comparison of our iron line upper limit with reported detections indicates variability of the line  EW. These results can be explained by the relatively low nuclear absorption of NGC 4258 (which is in the range expected for its intermediate Seyfert type) and some variability of the absorbing material. Reflection components as proposed to explain the large iron line EW of highly absorbed Seyfert 2 galaxies and/or variations in the accretion disk are however imposed by the time variability of the iron line flux.

Key words: galaxies: individual: NGC 4258 -- galaxies: Seyfert -- X-rays: galaxies

Offprint request: W. Pietsch, wnp@mpe.mpg.de

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