The soft x-ray properties of a complete sample of optically selected quasars. 1: First results
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CitationLaor, Ari, Fabrizio Fiore, Martin Elvis, Belinda J. Wilkes, and Jonathan C. McDowell. 1994. “The Soft x-Ray Properties of a Complete Sample of Optically Selected Quasars. 1: First Results.” The Astrophysical Journal 435 (November): 611. doi:10.1086/174841.
AbstractWe present the results of ROSAT position sensitive proportional counter (PSPC) observations of 10 quasars. These objects are part of our ROSAT program to observe a complete sample of optically selected quasars. This sample includes all 23 quasars from the bright quasar survey with a redshift z less than or = 0.400 and a Galactic H I column density NGalH I less than 1.9 x 1020/sq cm. These selection criteria, combined with the high sensitivity and improved energy resolution of the PSPC, allow us to determine the soft (approximately 0.2-2 keV) X-ray spectra of quasars with about an order of magnitude higher precision compared with earlier soft X-ray observations. The following main results are obtained: Strong correlations are suggested between the soft X-ray spectral slope alphax and the following emission line parameters: H beta Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM), LO III, and the Fe II/H beta flux ratio. These correlations imply the following: (1) The quasar's environment is likely to be optically thin down to approximately 0.2 keV. (2) In most objects alphax varies by less than approximately 10% on timescales shorter than a few years. (3) alphax might be a useful absolute luminosity indicator in quasars. (4) The Galactic He I and H I column densities are well correlated. Most spectra are well characterized by a simple power law, with no evidence for either significant absorption excess or emission excess at low energies, to within approximately 30%. We find mean value of alphax = -1.50 +/- 0.40, which is consistent with other ROSAT observations of quasars. However, this average is significantly steeper than suggested by earlier soft X-ray observations of the Einstein IPC. The 0.3 keV flux in our sample can be predicted to better than a factor of 2 once the 1.69 micrometer(s) flux is given. This implies that the X-ray variability power spectra of quasars flattens out between f approximately 10-5 and f approximately 10-8 Hz. A steep alphax is mostly associated with a weak hard X-ray component, relative to the near-IR and optical emission, rather than a strong soft excess, and the scatter in the normalized 0.3 keV flux is significantly smaller than the scatter in the normalized 2 keV flux. This argues against either thin or thick accretion disks as the origin of the soft X-ray emission. Further possible implications of the results found here are briefly discussed.
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