X-ray spectral variability of the soft X-ray spectrum Seyfert 1 galaxies Akn 564 and Ton S180
journal contributionposted on 04.11.2016, 15:53 by Rick Edelson, T. J. Turner, Ken Pounds, Simon Vaughan, A. Markowitz, H. Marshall, Paul Dobbie, Robert Warwick
The bright, soft X-ray spectrum Seyfert 1 galaxies Ark 564 and Ton S180 were monitored for 35 days and 12 days, respectively, with ASCA and RXTE (and EUVE for Ton S180). These represent the most intensive X-ray monitoring of any such soft-spectrum Seyfert 1 to date. Light curves were constructed for Ton S180 in six bands spanning 0.1-10 keV and for Ark 564 in five bands spanning 0.7-10 keV. The short-timescale (hours-days) variability patterns were very similar across energy bands, with no evidence of lags between any of the energy bands studied. The fractional variability amplitude was almost independent of energy band, unlike hard-spectrum Seyfert 1 galaxies, which show stronger variations in the softer bands. It is difficult to simultaneously explain soft Seyfert galaxies stronger variability, softer spectra, and weaker energy dependence of the variability relative to hard Seyfert galaxies. There was a trend for soft- and hard-band light curves of both objects to diverge on the longest timescales probed (~weeks), with the hardness ratio showing a secular change throughout the observations. This is consistent with the fluctuation power density spectra that showed relatively greater power on long timescales in the softest bands. The simplest explanation of all of these is that two continuum emission components are visible in the X-rays: a relatively hard, rapidly variable component that dominates the total spectrum and a slowly variable soft excess that only shows up in the lowest energy channels of ASCA. Although it would be natural to identify the latter component with an accretion disk and the former with a corona surrounding it, a standard thin disk could not get hot enough to radiate significantly in the ASCA band, and the observed variability timescales are much too short. It also appears that the hard component may have a more complex shape than a pure power law. The most rapid factor of 2 flares and dips occurred within ~1000 s, in Ark 564 and a bit more slowly in Ton S180. The speed of the luminosity changes rules out viscous or thermal processes and limits the size of the individual emission regions to ~< 15 Schwarzschild radii (and probably much less), that is, to either the inner disk or small regions in a corona.