Due to their heavily obscured central engines, the growth rate of Compton-thick (CT) active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is difficult to measure. A statistically significant correlation between the Eddington ratio, AEdd, and the X-ray power-law index, T, observed in unobscured AGNs offers an estimate of their growth rate from X-ray spectroscopy (albeit with large scatter). However, since X-rays undergo reprocessing by Compton scattering and photoelectric absorption when the line of sight to the central engine is heavily obscured, the recovery of the intrinsic T is challenging. Here we study a sample of local, predominantly CT megamaser AGNs, where the black hole mass, and thus Eddington luminosity, are well known. We compile results of the X-ray spectral fitting of these sources with sensitive high-energy (E > 10keV) NuSTAR data, where X-ray torus models, which take into account the reprocessing effects have been used to recover the intrinsic Γ values and X-ray luminosities, LX. With a simple bolometric correction to LX to calculate λEdd, we find a statistically significant correlation between Γ and λEdd (p = 0.007). A linear fit to the data yields Γ = (0.41 ± 0.18)log10 λEdd + (2.38 ± 0.20), which is statistically consistent with results for unobscured AGNs. This result implies that torus modeling successfully recovers the intrinsic AGN parameters. Since the megamasers have low-mass black holes (MBH ≈ 106-107 M⊙) and are highly inclined, our results extend the Γ-λEdd relationship to lower masses and argue against strong orientation effects in the corona, in support of AGN unification. Finally this result supports the use of Γ as a growth-rate indicator for accreting black holes, even for CT AGNs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science