The X-ray view of the quasar MR 2251-178 and its host cluster: Variability, absorption, and intracluster gas emission
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Postfach 1312, 85741 Garching, Germany
Corresponding author: St. Komossa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 13 December 2000
MR 2251-178 was the first quasar initially discovered in X-rays, and the first one found to host a warm absorber. The quasar turned out to be an outstanding object in many respects. It has a high ratio of X-ray/optical luminosity, is surrounded by the largest quasar emission-line nebula known, and is located in the outskirts of a cluster of galaxies. Here, we present results from an analysis of the X-ray spectral, temporal, and spatial properties of this source and its environment based on deep ROSAT observations. Remarkably, we do not detect any excess X-ray cold absorption expected to originate from the giant gas nebula surrounding MR 2251-178. This excludes the presence of a huge HI envelope around the quasar. The X-ray spectrum of MR 2251-178 is best fit by a warm-absorbed powerlaw with an ionization parameter and a column density which, however, cannot be the same material as the giant optical emission line nebula. The mean (0.1-2.4) keV X-ray luminosity amounts to 1045 erg/s. A spatial analysis shows that the bulk of the X-ray emission from the quasar is consistent with a point source, as expected in view of the powerlaw-shaped X-ray spectrum and the rapid X-ray variability we detect. In addition, extended emission appears at weak emission levels, including a bridge between the quasar and the cD galaxy of the cluster. The X-ray emission from the intra-cluster medium is weak or absent. We derive an upper limit on the X-ray luminosity of erg/s, weaker than other clusters of comparable richness. None of the other member galaxies of the cluster to which MR 2251-178 belongs, are detected in X-rays. However, east of the quasar there is a significant excess of X-ray sources, several of them without optical counterparts on the UK Schmidt plates.
Key words: galaxies: active / individual: MR 2251-178 / quasars / clusters / X-rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2001