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Published April 2019 | Published + Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Nuclear spallation in active galaxies


A number of works point to the presence of narrow emission features at unusual energies in the X-ray spectra of active galactic nuclei or to potentially low iron abundances as possible evidence for the spallation of iron. With the imminence of high-resolution calorimeter spectroscopy, the potential to test spallation models in astrophysical sources will soon be possible. Previously determined nuclear spallation reactions of Fe are recalculated making use of improved total inelastic and partial reaction cross-sections that result in different absolute and relative abundances of the main spallation elements Mn, Cr, V, and Ti. The effects of ionization and dynamics near the black hole are examined in simulated spectra with CCD and calorimeter (i.e. Hitomi) resolution. With high resolution, differences in relative abundances and ionization should be detectable if spallation is originating at large distances from the black hole (e.g. torus or disc wind), where blurring is not significant. If spallation were occurring in the inner accretion disc, it would likely be undetected as blurring effects would cause significant blending of spectral features.

Additional Information

© 2019 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model). Accepted 2019 January 19. Received 2018 December 19; in original form 2018 September 27. Published: 25 January 2019. Many thanks to the referee for providing a helpful and stimulating report. We thank Dr. Lance Miller for providing the routines for proton–nucleus cross-sections written by A.F. Barghouty, and Dr. Shruti Tripathi for discussion. MHH acknowledges the receipt of a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. J.A.G acknowledges support from NASA grant 80NSSC177K0515 and from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. CSR thanks the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council for support under Consolidated Grant ST/R000867/1.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023