Volume 569, September 2014
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Published online||25 September 2014|
Searching for highly obscured AGNs in the XMM-Newton serendipitous source catalog⋆
1 Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications,
and Remote Sensing (IAASARS), National Observatory of Athens (NOA), Greece
2 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7HR, UK
Accepted: 21 July 2014
The majority of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are obscured by large amounts of absorbing material that makes them invisible at many wavelengths. X-rays, given their penetrating power, provide the most secure way for finding these AGNs. The XMM-Newton serendipitous source catalog, of which 3XMM-DR4 is the latest version, is the largest catalog of X-ray sources ever produced; it contains about half a million detections. These sources are mostly AGNs. We have derived X-ray spectral fits for very many 3XMM-DR4 sources (≳114 000 observations, corresponding to ~77 000 unique sources), which contain more than 50 source photons per detector. Here, we use a subsample of ≃1000 AGNs in the footprint of the SDSS area (covering 120 deg2) with available spectroscopic redshifts. We searched for highly obscured AGNs by applying an automated selection technique based on X-ray spectral analysis that is capable of efficiently selecting AGNs. The selection is based on the presence of either a) flat rest-frame spectra from a simple power-law fit; b) flat observed spectra from an absorbed power-law fit; c) an absorption turnover, indicative of a high rest-frame column density; or d) the presence of an Fe Kα line with a large equivalent width (>500 eV). We found 81 highly obscured candidate sources. Subsequent detailed manual spectral fits revealed that 28 of them are heavily absorbed by column densities higher than 1023 cm-2. Of these 28 AGNs, 15 are candidate Compton-thick AGNs on the basis of either a high column density, consistent within the 90% confidence level with NH> 1024 cm-2, or a large equivalent width (>500 eV) of the Fe Kα line. Another six are associated with near-Compton-thick AGNs with column densities of ~ 5 × 1023 cm-2. A combination of selection criteria a) and c) for low-quality spectra, and a) and d) for medium- to high-quality spectra, pinpoint highly absorbed AGNs with an efficiency of 80%.
Key words: X-rays: general / X-rays: diffuse background / surveys / galaxies: active
Table 4 is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014
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