Constraining the past X-ray luminosity of AGN in clusters of galaxies: The role of resonant scattering
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85740 Garching bei München, Germany
2 Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya 84/32, 117997 Moscow, Russia
Corresponding author: S. Yu. Sazonov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 28 June 2002
Only a small fraction of galactic nuclei in the nearby universe are luminous; most of them are currently dim. We investigate the feasibility of constraining the X-ray luminosity in the recent past (up to ∼106 years ago) of the nucleus of a cluster dominant galaxy by measuring the contribution of scattered radiation from the central source to the surface brightness of the intracluster gas dominated by thermal emission. We show that resonance X-ray lines present an advantage over the adjacent continuum, because the relative contribution of the scattered component is typically larger in the line case by a significant factor of 3–10. As an example, we estimate the level of constraint that could be derived from future fine spectroscopic observations on the past X-ray luminosity of the nearby M 87 and Cygnus A active galaxies. For instance, scattered line radiation should be detectable from the Virgo cluster if the X-ray luminosity of M 87 was a few times 1044 erg s-1, or 10-3 of its Eddington luminosity, until a few times 105 years ago. For comparison, upper limits inferred from the available XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray continuum data are typically 1–2 orders of magnitude weaker. The same method can be applied to distant powerful quasars (at redshifts ) if they have cluster-like gaseous coronae, as suggested by Rosat and Chandra observations of active galaxies at . Their surface brightness profiles in the X-ray continuum above ∼10 keV (where T is the gas temperature) should be dominated by redshifted scattered radiation from the quasar. Therefore, measurements with forthcoming mirror-optics hard X-ray telescopes could give information on the lifetime of quasars and parameters of the hot gas around them.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: quasars: general / scattering / X-rays: galaxies: clusters
© ESO, 2002