The weak Fe fluorescence line and long-term X-ray evolution of the Compton-thick active galactic nucleus in NGC7674

P. Gandhi, A. Annuar, G. B. Lansbury, D. Stern, D. M. Alexander, F. E. Bauer, S. Bianchi, S. E. Boggs, P. G. Boorman, W. N. Brandt, M. Brightman, F. E. Christensen, A. Comastri, W. W. Craig, A. Del Moro, M. Elvis, M. Guainazzi, C. J. Hailey, F. A. Harrison, M. KossI. Lamperti, G. Malaguti, A. Masini, G. Matt, S. Puccetti, C. Ricci, E. Rivers, D. J. Walton, W. W. Zhang

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Abstract

We present NuSTAR X-ray observations of the active galactic nucleus (AGN) in NGC7674. The source shows a flat X-ray spectrum, suggesting that it is obscured by Compton-thick gas columns. Based upon long-term flux dimming, previous work suggested the alternate possibility that the source is a recently switched-offAGN with the observed X-rays being the lagged echo from the torus. Our high-quality data show the source to be reflection-dominated in hard X-rays, but with a relatively weak neutral Fe Kα emission line (equivalent width [EW] of≈0.4 keV) and a strong Fe XXVI ionized line (EW≈0.2 keV).We construct an updated longterm X-ray light curve of NGC7674 and find that the observed 2-10 keV flux has remained constant for the past ≈ 20 yr, following a high-flux state probed by Ginga. Light travel time arguments constrain the minimum radius of the reflector to be ~ 3.2 pc under the switched-offAGN scenario, ≈ 30 times larger than the expected dust sublimation radius, rendering this possibility unlikely. A patchy Compton-thick AGN (CTAGN) solution is plausible, requiring a minimum line-of-sight column density (N H ) of 3 × 10 24 cm -2 at present, and yields an intrinsic 2-10 keV luminosity of (3-5) × 10 43 erg s -1 . Realistic uncertainties span the range of≈(1-13)×10 43 erg s -1 . The source has one of the weakest fluorescence lines amongst bona fide CTAGN, and is potentially a local analogue of bolometrically luminous systems showing complex neutral and ionized Fe emission. It exemplifies the difficulty of identification and proper characterization of distant CTAGN based on the strength of the neutral Fe Kα line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4606-4621
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume467
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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