Absorption in X-ray spectra of high-redshift quasars
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CitationElvis, Martin, Fabrizio Fiore, Belinda Wilkes, Jonathan McDowell, and Jill Bechtold. 1994. “Absorption in X-Ray Spectra of High-Redshift Quasars.” The Astrophysical Journal 422 (February): 60. doi:10.1086/173703.
AbstractWe present evidence that X-ray absorption is common in high-redshift quasars. We have studied six high-redshift (z approximately 3) quasars with the ROSAT Position Sensitive Proportional Counter (PSPC) of which four are in directions of low Galactic NH. Three out of these four show excess absorption, while only three in approximately 50 z approximately less than 0.4 quasars do, indicating that such absorption must be common, but not ubiquitous, at high redshifts, and that the absorbers must lie at z greater than 0.4. The six quasars were: S5 0014+81, Q0420-388, PKS 0438-436, S4 0636+680. PKS 2000-330, PKS 2126-158, which have redshifts between 2.85 and 3.78. PKS 0438-436 and PKS 2126-158 show evidence for absorption above the local Galactic value at better than 99.999% confidence level. If the absorber is at the redshift of the quasar, then values of NH = (0.86(+0.49, -0.28)) x 1022 atoms/sq cm for PKS 0438-436, and NH = (1.45(+1.20, -0.64)) x 1022 atoms/ sq cm for PKS 2126-158, are implied, assuming solar abundances. The spectrum of S4 0636+680 also suggests the presence of a similarly large absorption column density at the 98% confidence level. This absorption reverses the trend for the most luminous active galactic nuclei (AGN) to have the least X-ray absorption, so a new mechanism is likely to be responsible. Intervening absorption due to damped Lyman(alpha) systems is a plausible cause. We also suggest, as an intrinsic model, that intracluster material, e.g., a cooling flow, around the quasar could account for both the X-ray spectrum and other properties of these quasars. All the quasars are radio-loud and three are gigahertz peaked (two of the three showing absorption). No excess absorption above the Galactic value is seen toward Q0420-388. This quasar has two damped Lyman(alpha) systems at z = 3.08. The limit on the X-ray column density implies a low ionization fraction, N(H I)/N(H) approximately greater than 4 x 10-3 (3 (sigma)), for solar abundances, for these systems, and can set a weak limit on the size of the absorber. In the emitted frame these PSPC spectra cover the band approximately 0.5-10 keV, which has been well observed for low-redshift quasars and AGN. Comparison of high and low-redshift spectra in this emitted band shows no change of mean spectral index greater than Delta alphaE greater than 0.3 (99% confidence) with either redshift or luminosity, for radio-loud quasars.
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