Puccetti, S., Comastri, A., Fiore, F., Arévalo, P., Risaliti, G., Bauer, F.E., Brandt, W.N., Stern, D., Harrison, F.A., Alexander, D.M.
, Boggs, S.E., Christensen, F.E., Craig, W.W., Gandhi, P., Hailey, C.J., Koss, M.J., Lansbury, G.B.
, Luo, B., Madejski, G.M., Matt, G., Walton, D.J. & Zhang, W (2014). The Variable Hard X-Ray Emission of NGC 4945 as Observed by NuSTAR. The Astrophysical Journal 793
Author(s) from Durham
We present a broadband (~0.5-79 keV) spectral and temporal analysis of multiple NuSTAR observations combined with archival Suzaku and Chandra data of NGC 4945, the brightest extragalactic source at 100 keV. We observe hard X-ray (>10 keV) flux and spectral variability, with flux variations of a factor of two on timescales of 20 ks. A variable primary continuum dominates the high-energy spectrum (>10 keV) in all states, while the reflected/scattered flux that dominates at E <10 keV stays approximately constant. From modeling the complex reflection/transmission spectrum, we derive a Compton depth along the line of sight of τThomson ~ 2.9, and a global covering factor for the circumnuclear gas of ~0.15. This agrees with the constraints derived from the high-energy variability, which implies that most of the high-energy flux is transmitted rather than Compton-scattered. This demonstrates the effectiveness of spectral analysis at constraining the geometric properties of the circumnuclear gas, and validates similar methods used for analyzing the spectra of other bright, Compton-thick active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The lower limits on the e-folding energy are between 200 and 300 keV, consistent with previous BeppoSAX, Suzaku, and Swift Burst Alert Telescope observations. The accretion rate, estimated from the X-ray luminosity and assuming a bolometric correction typical of type 2 AGN, is in the range ~0.1-0.3 λEdd depending on the flux state. The substantial observed X-ray luminosity variability of NGC 4945 implies that large errors can arise from using single-epoch X-ray data to derive L/L Edd values for obscured AGNs.