In deep X-ray surveys, active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with a broad range of luminosities have been identified. However, cosmologically distant low-luminosity AGN (LLAGN, LX ≲ 10 42 erg s-1) identification still poses a challenge because of significant contamination from host galaxies. Based on the 7Ms Chandra Deep Field-South (CDF-S) survey, the longest-timescale (17 years) deep X-ray survey to date, we utilize an X-ray variability selection technique to search for LLAGNs that remain unidentified among the CDF-S X-ray sources. We find 13 variable sources from 110 unclassified CDF-S X-ray sources. Except for one source that could be an ultraluminous X-ray source, the variability of the remaining 12 sources is most likely due to accreting supermassive black holes. These 12 AGN candidates have low intrinsic X-ray luminosities, with a median value of 7 × 1040 erg s-1. They are generally not heavily obscured, with an average effective power-law photon index of 1.8. The fraction of variable AGNs in the CDF-S is independent of X-ray luminosity and is only restricted by the total number of observed net counts, confirming previous findings that X-ray variability is a near-ubiquitous property of AGNs over a wide range of luminosities. There is an anticorrelation between X-ray luminosity and variability amplitude for high-luminosity AGNs, but as the luminosity drops to ≲1042 erg s-1, the variability amplitude no longer appears dependent on the luminosity. The entire observed luminosity-variability trend can be roughly reproduced by an empirical AGN variability model based on a broken power-law power spectral density function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science