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Radiation spectra of warm and optically thick coronae in AGNs

Abstract : A soft X-ray excess above the 2–10 keV power-law extrapolation is generally observed in the X-ray spectra of active galactic nuclei. The origin of this excess is still not well understood. Presently there are two competitive models: blurred ionized reflection and warm Comptonization. In the case of warm Comptonization, observations suggest a corona temperature in the range 0.1–2 keV and a corona optical depth of about 10–20. Moreover, radiative constraints from spectral fits with Comptonization models suggest that most of the accretion power should be released in the warm corona and the disk below is basically non-dissipative, radiating only the reprocessed emission from the corona. However, the true radiative properties of such a warm and optically thick plasma are not well known. For instance, the importance of the Comptonization process, the potential presence of strong absorption and/or emission features, and the spectral shape of the output spectrum have been studied only very recently. Here, we present simulations of warm and optically thick coronae using the TITAN radiative transfer code coupled with the NOAR Monte-Carlo code, the latter fully accounting for Compton scattering of continuum and lines. Illumination from above by hard X-ray emission and from below by an optically thick accretion disk are taken into account, as well as (uniform) internal heating. Our simulations show that for a large part of the parameter space, the warm corona with sufficient internal mechanical heating is dominated by Compton cooling and neither strong absorption nor emission lines are present in the outgoing spectra. In a smaller part of the parameter space, the calculated emission agrees with the spectral shape of the observed soft X-ray excess. Remarkably, this also corresponds to the conditions of radiative equilibrium of an extended warm corona covering a non-dissipative accretion disk almost entirely. These results confirm that warm Comptonization is a valuable model that can explain the origin of the soft X-ray excess.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 10:08:07 PM
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P.-O. Petrucci, D. Gronkiewicz, A. Rozanska, R. Belmont, S. Bianchi, et al.. Radiation spectra of warm and optically thick coronae in AGNs. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2020, 634, pp.A85. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201937011⟩. ⟨cea-02475308⟩

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