The XMM deep survey in the CDF-S VI. Obscured AGN selected as infrared power-law galaxies
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AuthorCastelló Mor, Núria; Carrera Troyano, Francisco Jesús; Alonso Herrero, Almudena; Mateos Ibáñez, Silvia; Barcons Jáuregui, Xavier; Ranalli, P.; Pérez-González, Pablo G.; Comastri, Andrea; Vignali, Cristian; Georgantopoulos, Ioannis
Context. Accretion onto supermassive black holes is believed to occur mostly in obscured active galactic nuclei (AGN). Such objects are proving rather elusive in surveys of distant galaxies, including those at X-ray energies.
Aims. Our main goal is to determine whether the revised IRAC criteria of Donley et al. (2012, ApJ, 748, 142; objects with an infrared (IR) power-law spectral shape), are effective at selecting X-ray type-2 AGN (i.e., absorbed NH > 1022 cm-2).
Methods. We present the results from the X-ray spectral analysis of 147 AGN selected by cross-correlating the highest spectral quality ultra-deep XMM-Newton and the Spitzer/IRAC catalogues in the Chandra Deep Field South. Consequently it is biased towards sources with high S/N X-ray spectra. In order to measure the amount of intrinsic absorption in these sources, we adopt a simple X-ray spectral model that includes a power-law modified by intrinsic absorption at the redshift of each source and a possible soft X-ray component.
Results. We find 21/147 sources to be heavily absorbed but the uncertainties in their obscuring column densities do not allow us to confirm their Compton-Thick nature without resorting to additional criteria. Although IR power-law galaxies are less numerous in our sample than IR non-power-law galaxies (60 versus 87 respectively), we find that the fraction of absorbed (NHintr > 1022 cm-2) AGN is significantly higher (at about 3 sigma level) for IR-power-law sources (~2/3) than for those sources that do not meet this IR selection criteria (~1/2). This behaviour is particularly notable at low luminosities, but it appears to be present, although with a marginal significance, at all luminosities.
Conclusions. We therefore conclude that the IR power-law method is efficient in finding X-ray-absorbed sources. We would then expect that the long-sought dominant population of absorbed AGN is abundant among IR power-law spectral shape sources not detected in X-rays.
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