X-ray variability time scales in active galactic nucleiW. Ishibashi1, 2 and T. J.-L. Courvoisier1, 2
1 ISDC Data Centre for Astrophysics, ch. d'Ecogia 16, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
2 Geneva Observatory, Geneva University, ch. des Maillettes 51, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
Received 26 February 2009/ Accepted 22 May 2009
X-ray variability in active galactic nuclei (AGN) is commonly analysed in terms of the power spectral density (PSD). The break observed in the power spectrum can be interpreted as a characteristic X-ray variability time scale. Here we study variability properties within the framework of clumpy accretion flows, in which shocks between accreting elements account for the UV and X-ray emissions. We derive a characteristic X-ray time scale, , and compare it with the measured PSD break time scale, . Good agreement is found in both magnitude and trend. In particular, the model dependence on black hole mass and accretion rate precisely reproduces the empirical relation obtained by McHardy et al. (2006, Nature, 444, 730). We suggest a possible physical interpretation of the break time scale and briefly discuss the related aspects of optical/UV variability and correlations between different wavelengths.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- radiation mechanisms: general -- galaxies: active -- ultraviolet: galaxies -- X-rays: galaxies
© ESO 2009