Inferring Compton-thick AGN candidates at z>2 with Chandra using the >8 keV restframe spectral curvature

20 Jun 2017  ·  Baronchelli L., Koss M., Schawinski K., Cardamone C., Civano F., Comastri A., Elvis M., Lanzuisi G., Marchesi S., Ricci C., Salvato M., Trakhtenbrot B., Treister E. ·

To fully understand cosmic black hole growth we need to constrain the population of heavily obscured active galactic nuclei (AGN) at the peak of cosmic black hole growth ($z\sim$1-3). Sources with obscuring column densities higher than $\mathrm{10^{24}}$ atoms $\mathrm{cm^{-2}}$, called Compton-thick (CT) AGN, can be identified by excess X-ray emission at $\sim$20-30 keV, called the "Compton hump"... We apply the recently developed Spectral Curvature (SC) method to high-redshift AGN (2<z<5) detected with Chandra. This method parametrizes the characteristic "Compton hump" feature cosmologically redshifted into the X-ray band at observed energies <10 keV. We find good agreement in CT AGN found using the SC method and bright sources fit using their full spectrum with X-ray spectroscopy. In the Chandra deep field south, we measure a CT fraction of $\mathrm{17^{+19}_{-11}\%}$ (3/17) for sources with observed luminosity $\mathrm{>5\times 10^{43}}$ erg $\mathrm{s^{-1}}$. In the Cosmological evolution survey (COSMOS), we find an observed CT fraction of $\mathrm{15^{+4}_{-3}\%}$ (40/272) or $\mathrm{32\pm11 \%}$ when corrected for the survey sensitivity. When comparing to low redshift AGN with similar X-ray luminosities, our results imply the CT AGN fraction is consistent with having no redshift evolution. Finally, we provide SC equations that can be used to find high-redshift CT AGN (z>1) for current (XMM-Newton) and future (eROSITA and ATHENA) X-ray missions. read more

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena Astrophysics of Galaxies