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Determining the Covering Factor of Compton-thick Active Galactic Nuclei with NuSTAR

Brightman, M. and Baloković, M. and Stern, D. and Arévalo, P. and Ballantyne, D. R. and Bauer, F. E. and Boggs, S. E. and Craig, W. W. and Christensen, F. E. and Comastri, A. and Fuerst, F. and Gandhi, P. and Hailey, C. J. and Harrison, F. A. and Hickox, R. C. and Koss, M. and LaMassa, S. and Puccetti, S. and Rivers, E. and Vasudevan, R. and Walton, D. J. and Zhang, W. W. (2015) Determining the Covering Factor of Compton-thick Active Galactic Nuclei with NuSTAR. Astrophysical Journal, 805 (1). Art. No. 41. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/805/1/41.

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The covering factor of Compton-thick (CT) obscuring material associated with the torus in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is at present best understood through the fraction of sources exhibiting CT absorption along the line of sight (N_H > 1.5 × 10^(24) cm^(−2)) in the X-ray band, which reveals the average covering factor. Determining this CT fraction is difficult, however, due to the extreme obscuration. With its spectral coverage at hard X-rays (>10 keV), Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is sensitive to the AGNs covering factor since Compton scattering of X-rays off optically thick material dominates at these energies. We present a spectral analysis of 10 AGNs observed with NuSTAR where the obscuring medium is optically thick to Compton scattering, so-called CT AGNs. We use the torus models of Brightman & Nandra that predict the X-ray spectrum from reprocessing in a torus and include the torus opening angle as a free parameter and aim to determine the covering factor of the CT gas in these sources individually. Across the sample we find mild to heavy CT columns, with N_H measured from 10^(24) to 10^(26) cm^(−2), and a wide range of covering factors, where individual measurements range from 0.2 to 0.9. We find that the covering factor, f_c, is a strongly decreasing function of the intrinsic 2–10 keV luminosity, L_X, where f_c = (−0.41 ± 0.13)log_(10)(L_X/erg s^(−1))+18.31 ± 5.33, across more than two orders of magnitude in L_X (10^(41.5)–10^(44) erg s^(−1)). The covering factors measured here agree well with the obscured fraction as a function of L_X as determined by studies of local AGNs with L_X > 10^(42.5) erg s^(−1).

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Brightman, M.0000-0002-8147-2602
Baloković, M.0000-0003-0476-6647
Stern, D.0000-0003-2686-9241
Ballantyne, D. R.0000-0001-8128-6976
Bauer, F. E.0000-0002-8686-8737
Boggs, S. E.0000-0001-9567-4224
Christensen, F. E.0000-0001-5679-1946
Comastri, A.0000-0003-3451-9970
Fuerst, F.0000-0003-0388-0560
Gandhi, P.0000-0003-3105-2615
Harrison, F. A.0000-0003-2992-8024
Hickox, R. C.0000-0003-1468-9526
Koss, M.0000-0002-7998-9581
LaMassa, S.0000-0002-5907-3330
Puccetti, S.0000-0002-2734-7835
Walton, D. J.0000-0001-5819-3552
Zhang, W. W.0000-0002-1426-9698
Additional Information:© 2015 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2014 November 7; accepted 2015 February 24; published 2015 May 19. This work was supported under NASA Contract No. NNG08FD60C and made use of data from the NuSTAR mission, a project led by the California Institute of Technology, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank the NuSTAR Operations, Software, and Calibration teams for support with the execution and analysis of these observations. This research has made use of the NuSTAR Data Analysis Software (NuSTARDAS) jointly developed by the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC, Italy) and the California Institute of Technology (USA). The work presented here was also based on observations obtained with XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States and NASA. This research has also made use of data and software provided by the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), which is a service of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC and the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Furthermore, this research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED), which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. M. Baloković acknowledges support from NASA Headquarters under the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, grant NNX14AQ07H. D.R.B. acknowledges support from NSF award AST 1008067; P.G. acknowledges support from STFC (grant reference ST/J003697/1), M.K. acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) through the Ambizione fellowship grant PZ00P2 154799/1. We also acknowledge support from CONICYT-Chile grants Basal-CATA PFB-06/2007 (FEB), FONDECYT 1141218 (FEB), "EMBIGGEN" Anillo ACT1101 (FEB), Project IC120009 "Millennium Institute of Astrophysics (MAS)" of the Iniciativa Científica Milenio del Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Turismo (FEB). Facilities: NuSTAR, XMM (EPIC)
Group:NuSTAR, Space Radiation Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Earth and Space Science FellowshipNNX14AQ07H
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/J003697/1
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)PZ00P2 154799/1
Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT)Basal-CATA PFB-06/2007
Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT)1141218
Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT)ACT1101
Iniciativa Científica Milenio del Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y TurismoIC120009
Subject Keywords:galaxies: active; galaxies: individual (NGC 424, NGC 1068, NGC 4945, Circinus); X-rays: galaxies
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Space Radiation Laboratory2015-62
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150619-091157800
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Determining the Covering Factor of Compton-thick Active Galactic Nuclei with NuSTAR M. Brightman et al. 2015 ApJ 805 41
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58370
Deposited On:19 Jun 2015 17:26
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:03

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