Tuesday, July 9, 2013

1307.2053 (Assaf Eitan et al.)

X-ray Absorption of High Redshift Quasars    [PDF]

Assaf Eitan, Ehud Behar
Soft X-ray photoelectric absorption of high-z quasars has been known for two decades, but has no unambiguous astro-physical context. We construct the largest sample to date of 58 high redshift quasars (z > 0.45) selected from the XMM-Newton archive based on a high photon count criterion (> 1800). We measure the optical depth tau at 0.5 keV, and find that 43% of the quasars show significant absorption. We aim to find which physical parameters of the quasars drive their observed absorption, e.g., redshift, radio luminosity, radio loudness, or the X-ray luminosity. We compare the absorption behavior with redshift with the pattern expected if the diffuse intergalactic medium (IGM) is responsible for the observed absorption, and with a comparison sample of gamma ray burst (GRB) X-ray afterglows. Although the z > 2 quasar opacity is consistent with diffuse IGM absorption, many intermediate z (0.45 < z < 2) quasars are not sufficiently absorbed for this scenario, and are appreciably less absorbed than GRBs. Only 10/37 quasars at z < 2 are absorbed, and only 5/30 radio quiet quasars are absorbed. We find a weak correlation between tau and z, and even a weaker correlation between tau and radio luminosity, which leads to the conclusion that although a diffuse IGM origin for the quasar absorption is unlikely, optical depth does seem to increase with redshift, roughly as (1+z)^{2.2+-0.6}, tending at high-z to tau ~ 0.4, similar to the high-z GRB values. This result can be explained by an ionized and clumpy IGM at z < 2, and a cold, diffuse IGM at higher redshift. If, conversely, ascribed to local absorption at the quasar, and owing to the steep L_x ~ (1+z)^{7.1+-0.5} correlation in the present sample, the host column density scales as N_H ~ L_x^{0.7+-0.1}.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.2053

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