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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof David Alexander

Harrison, F. A., Aird, J., Civano, F., Lansbury, G., Mullaney, J. R., Ballantyne, D. R., Alexander, D. M., Stern, D., Ajello, M., Barret, D., Bauer, F. E., Baloković, M., Brandt, W. N., Brightman, M., Boggs, S. E., Christensen, F. E., Comastri, A., Craig, W. W., Moro, A. Del, Forster, K., Gandhi, P., Giommi, P., Grefenstette, B. W., Hailey, C. J., Hickox, R. C., Hornstrup, A., Kitaguchi, T., Koglin, J., Luo, B., Madsen, K. K., Mao, P. H., Miyasaka, H., Mori, K., Perri, M., Pivovaroff, M., Puccetti, S., Rana, V., Treister, E., Walton, D., Westergaard, N. J., Wik, D., Zappacosta, L., Zhang, W. W. & Zoglauer, A. (2016). The NuSTAR extragalactic surveys: The number counts of active galactic nuclei and the resolved fraction of the cosmic X-ray background. The Astrophysical Journal 831(2): 185.

Author(s) from Durham


We present the 3–8 keV and 8–24 keV number counts of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) identified in the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) extragalactic surveys. NuSTAR has now resolved 33%–39% of the X-ray background in the 8–24 keV band, directly identifying AGNs with obscuring columns up to $\sim {10}^{25}\,{\mathrm{cm}}^{-2}$. In the softer 3–8 keV band the number counts are in general agreement with those measured by XMM-Newton and Chandra over the flux range $5\times {10}^{-15}\,\lesssim $ S(3–8 keV)/$\mathrm{erg}\,{{\rm{s}}}^{-1}\,{\mathrm{cm}}^{-2}\,\lesssim \,{10}^{-12}$ probed by NuSTAR. In the hard 8–24 keV band NuSTAR probes fluxes over the range $2\times {10}^{-14}\,\lesssim $ S(8–24 keV)/$\mathrm{erg}\,{{\rm{s}}}^{-1}\,{\mathrm{cm}}^{-2}\,\lesssim \,{10}^{-12}$, a factor ~100 fainter than previous measurements. The 8–24 keV number counts match predictions from AGN population synthesis models, directly confirming the existence of a population of obscured and/or hard X-ray sources inferred from the shape of the integrated cosmic X-ray background. The measured NuSTAR counts lie significantly above simple extrapolation with a Euclidian slope to low flux of the Swift/BAT 15–55 keV number counts measured at higher fluxes (S(15–55 keV) gsim 10−11 $\mathrm{erg}\,{{\rm{s}}}^{-1}\,{\mathrm{cm}}^{-2}$), reflecting the evolution of the AGN population between the Swift/BAT local ($z\lt 0.1$) sample and NuSTAR's $z\sim 1$ sample. CXB synthesis models, which account for AGN evolution, lie above the Swift/BAT measurements, suggesting that they do not fully capture the evolution of obscured AGNs at low redshifts.