We present a study of the relation between accretion rate (in terms of L/LEdd) and shape of the hard X-ray spectral energy distribution (namely the photon index Γx) for a large sample of over 200 hard X-ray-selected, low-redshift active galactic nuclei (AGNs), drawn from the Swift/BAT AGN Spectroscopic Survey (BASS). This includes 30 AGNs for which black hole mass (and therefore L/LEdd) is measured directly through masers, spatially resolved gas or stellar dynamics, or reverberation mapping. The high-quality and broad energy coverage of the data provided through BASS allow us to examine several alternative determinations of both Γx and L/LEdd. We find very weak correlation between Γx and L/LEdd for the BASS sample as a whole, with best-fitting relations that are considerably shallower than those reported in previous studies. Moreover, we find no corresponding correlations among the subsets of AGN with different MBH determination methodology, and in particular those AGN with direct or single-epoch MBH estimates. This latter finding is in contrast to several previous studies which focused on z > 0.5 broad-line AGN. We conclude that this tension can be partially accounted for if one adopts a simplified, power-law X-ray spectral model, combined with L/LEdd estimates that are based on the continuum emission and on single-epoch broad-line spectroscopy in the optical regime. Given these findings, we highlight the limitations of using Γx as a probe of supermassive black hole evolution in deep extragalactic X-ray surveys.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #231
- Pub Date:
- January 2018