Volume 588, April 2016
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||01 April 2016|
Anatomy of the AGN in NGC 5548
VII. Swift study of obscuration and broadband continuum variability
1 SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
2 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6NT, UK
3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Universiteit Utrecht, PO Box 80000, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
4 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
5 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
6 Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
7 INAF-IASF Bologna, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
8 Université Grenoble Alpes, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
9 CNRS, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
10 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse, 85748 Garching, Germany
11 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Católica del Norte, Avenida Angamos 0610, Casilla 1280, Antofagasta, Chile
12 Department of Physics, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, 32000 Haifa, Israel
13 Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, via della Vasca Navale 84, 00146 Roma, Italy
14 European Space Astronomy Centre, PO Box 78, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
15 Department of Astronomy, University of Geneva, 16 Ch. d’Ecogia, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
16 Department of Astronomy, The Ohio State University, 140 W 18th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
17 Center for Cosmology & AstroParticle Physics, The Ohio State University, 191 West Woodruff Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Received: 11 November 2015
Accepted: 6 February 2016
We present our investigation into the long-term variability of the X-ray obscuration and optical-UV-X-ray continuum in the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 5548. In 2013 and 2014, the Swift observatory monitored NGC 5548 on average every day or two, with archival observations reaching back to 2005, totalling about 670 ks of observing time. Both broadband spectral modelling and temporal rms variability analysis are applied to the Swift data. We disentangle the variability caused by absorption, due to an obscuring weakly-ionised outflow near the disk, from variability of the intrinsic continuum components (the soft X-ray excess and the power law) originating in the disk and its associated coronae. The spectral model that we apply to this extensive Swift data is the global model that we derived for NGC 5548 from analysis of the stacked spectra from our multi-satellite campaign of 2013 (including XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, and HST). The results of our Swift study show that changes in the covering fraction of the obscurer is the primary and dominant cause of variability in the soft X-ray band on timescales of 10 days to ~5 months. The obscuring covering fraction of the X-ray source is found to range between 0.7 and nearly 1.0. The contribution of the soft excess component to the X-ray variability is often much less than that of the obscurer, but it becomes comparable when the optical-UV continuum flares up. We find that the soft excess is consistent with being the high-energy tail of the optical-UV continuum and can be explained by warm Comptonisation: up-scattering of the disk seed photons in a warm, optically thick corona as part of the inner disk. To this date, the Swift monitoring of NGC 5548 shows that the obscurer has been continuously present in our line of sight for at least 4 years (since at least February 2012).
Key words: X-rays: galaxies / galaxies: active / galaxies: Seyfert / galaxies: individual: NGC 5548 / techniques: spectroscopic
© ESO, 2016
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