Chandra Observations of Candidate "True" Seyfert 2 Nuclei

Himel Ghosh, Richard W. Pogge, Smita Mathur, Paul Martini, and Joseph C. Shields, 2007, ApJ, 656, 105

The Unification Model for active galactic nuclei posits that Seyfert 2s are intrinsically like Seyfert 1s, but that their broad-line regions (BLRs) are hidden from our view. A Seyfert 2 nucleus that truly lacked a BLR, instead of simply having it hidden, would be a so-called "true" Seyfert 2. No object has as yet been conclusively proven to be one. We present a detailed analysis of four of the best "true" Seyfert 2 candidates discovered to date: IC 3639, NGC 3982, NGC 5283, and NGC 5427. None of the four has a broad H-alpha emission line, either in direct or polarized light. All four have rich, high-excitation spectra, blue continua, and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images showing them to be unresolved sources with no host-galaxy obscuration. To check for possible obscuration on scales smaller than that resolvable by HST, we obtained X-ray observations using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. All four objects show evidence of obscuration and therefore could have hidden BLRs. The picture that emerges is of moderate to high, but not necessarily Compton-thick, obscuration of the nucleus, with extra-nuclear soft emission extended on the hundreds-of-parsecs scale that may originate in the narrow-line region. Since the extended soft emission compensates, in part, for the nuclear soft emission lost to absorption, both absorption and luminosity are likely to be severely underestimated unless the X-ray spectrum is of sufficient quality to distinguish the two components. This is of special concern where the source is too faint to produce a large number of counts, or where the source is too far away to resolve the extended soft X-ray emitting region.

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