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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Chris Done

Starling, R.L.C., Done, C., Jin, C., Romero-Colmenero, E., Potter, S.B., Wiersema, K., Page, K.L., Page, M.J., Breeveld, A.A. & Lobban, A.P. (2014). The story of Seyfert galaxy RE J2248-511: from intriguingly ultrasoft to unremarkably average. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 437(4): 3929-3938.

Author(s) from Durham


RE J2248−511 is one of only 14 non-blazar active galactic nuclei (AGN) detected in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) by the ROSAT Wide Field Camera implying a large ultrasoft X-ray flux. This soft X-ray excess is strongly variable on year time-scales, a common property of narrow-line Seyfert 1s, yet its optical line widths classify this source as a broad-lined Seyfert 1 (BLS1). We use four nearly simultaneous optical–X-ray spectral energy distributions (SEDs) spanning 7 yr to study the spectral shape and long-term variability of RE J2248−511. Here we show that the continuum SED for the brightest epoch data set is consistent with the mean SED of a standard quasar, and matches well to that from an XMM–Sloan Digital Sky Survey sample of AGN with 〈M/M⊙〉 ∼ 108 and 〈L/LEdd〉 ∼ 0.2. All the correlated optical and soft X-ray variability can be due entirely to a major absorption event. The only remarkable aspect of this AGN is that there is no measurable intrinsic X-ray absorption column in the brightest epoch data set. The observed FUV flux is determined by the combination of this and the fact that the source lies within a local absorption ‘hole’. RE J2248−511, whose variable, ultrasoft X-ray flux once challenged its BLS1 classification, demonstrates that characterization of such objects requires multi-epoch, multiwavelength campaigns.