Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Encarni Romero-Colmenero
Spectral properties of X-ray selected narrow emission line galaxies

1998 (supervisor: G. Branduardi-Raymont)

This thesis reports a study of the X-ray and optical properties of two samples of X-ray selected Narrow Emission Line Galaxies (NELGs), and their comparison with the properties of broad line Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). One sample (18 NELGs) is drawn from the ROSAT International X-ray Optical Survey (RIXOS), the other (19 NELGs and 33 AGN) from the ROSAT UK Deep Survey.

ROSAT multi-channel X-ray spectra have been extracted and fitted with power-law, bremsstrahlung and black body models for the brighter RIXOS sources. In most cases, power-law and bremsstrahlung models provide the best results. The average spectral energy index, alpha, of the RIXOS NELGs is 0.96 +/- 0.07, similar to that of AGN (alpha~1).

For the fainter RIXOS NELGs, as well as for all the UK Deep Survey sources, counts in three spectral bands have been extracted and fitted with a power-law model, assuming the Galactic value for N_H. The brighter RIXOS sources demonstrated that the results obtained by these two different extraction and fitting procedures provide consistent results.

Two average X-ray spectra, one for the NELGs and another for the AGN, were created from the UK Deep Survey sources. The power-law slope of the average NELG is alpha = 0.45 +/- 0.09, whilst that of the AGN is alpha = 0.96 +/- 0.03.

ROSAT X-ray surveys have shown that the fractional surface density of NELGs increases with respect to AGN at faint fluxes (<= 2e-15 ergs cm-2 s-1), thus suggesting that NELGs are important contributors to the residual soft (<2 keV) X-ray background (XRB). Moreover, the spectral slope of this background (alpha~0.4, 1-10 keV) is harder than that of AGN (alpha~1), which are known to contribute most of the XRB at higher flux levels. The work presented in this thesis shows unequivocally for the first time that the integrated spectrum of the faintest NELGs (alpha~0.4) is consistent with that of the soft X-ray background, finally reconciling it with the properties of the sources that are thought to constitute it. Furthermore, by combining both samples of NELGs, I find a tendency for sources at lower fluxes to display harder slopes (95% confidence level), further strengthening the case for NELGs to be major contributors to the XRB at the fainter fluxes.

The analysis of optical spectroscopy, obtained on La Palma and Hawaii, shows that NELGs form a very heterogeneous group, made up of a mixture of Seyfert 2, LINER and HII-region like galaxies. Seyfert 2 galaxies are found to possess in general the steepest X-ray slopes. Ways to explain this in the context of the unified model of AGN are discussed. The FWHM of some emission lines (Halpha, Hbeta, [NII]) in the NELGs appears to increase with steepening X-ray spectral slope. In the case of the Balmer lines, this is at variance with what is observed in broad line AGN. The FWHM of the Balmer lines is also correlated to the FWHM of the forbidden lines, indicating that they must originate in regions of similar velocity fields. Unfortunately, the number of sources uniquely classified is not sufficient to investigate these relationships on a source type basis.

The optical emission line ratios of a bright RIXOS source (aka Arp 185, NGC 6217), classified as a starburst galaxy in the literature, indicate that this is in fact a weak-[OI] LINER, powered either by emission from hot O stars or by hot stars together with a non-stellar continuum. Spatially resolved spectroscopic analysis suggests that the Balmer emission lines are concentrated in the inner regions of the nucleus, while the forbidden lines arise from a more extended region. Line ratios do not indicate a change in the ionizing continuum of this source with distance from the centre.


Mullard Space Science Laboratory - Holmbury St Mary - Dorking - Surrey - RH5 6NTTelephone: +44 (0) 1483 204100 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

Search by Google