Response of the warm absorber cloud to a variable nuclear flux in active galactic nuclei
Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, LUTH, Meudon, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Copernicus Astronomical Center, Bartycka 18, 00-716 Warsaw, Poland
3 Centro de Astronomia e Astrofísica da Universidade de Lisboa, Observatório Astronómico de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-018 Lisboa, Portugal
Accepted: 20 December 2006
Recent modeling of the warm absorber in active galactic nuclei has proved the usefulness of constant total (gas plus radiation) pressure models, which are highly stratified in temperature and density. We explore the consistency of those models when the typical variation of the flux from the central source is taken into account. We have performed a variability study of the warm absorber response, based on timescales and our photoionization code titan. We show that the ionization and recombination timescales are much shorter than the dynamical timescale. Clouds very close to the central black hole will maintain their equilibrium since the characteristic variability timescales of the nuclear source are longer than cloud timescales. For more distant clouds, the density structure has no time to vary in response to the variations in the temperature or ionization structure, and such clouds will show the departure from the constant pressure equilibrium. We explore the impact of this departure on the observed properties of the transmitted spectrum and soft X-ray variability: (i) non uniform velocities, on the order of sound speed, appear due to pressure gradients, up to typical values of 100 km s-1. These velocities lead to the broadening of lines. This broadening is usually observed and very difficult to explain otherwise. (ii) Energy-dependent fractional variability amplitude in soft X-ray range has a broader hump around ~1–2 keV, and (iv) the plot of the equivalent hydrogen column density vs. ionization parameter is steeper than for equilibrium clouds. The results have the character of a preliminary study and should be supplemented in the future with full time-dependent radiation transfer and dynamical computations.
Key words: radiative transfer / line: identification / galaxies: Seyfert / X-rays: galaxies / galaxies: active
© ESO, 2007