Probing the Structure and Evolution of BASS Active Galactic Nuclei through Eddington Ratios

Tonima Tasnim Ananna, C. Megan Urry, Claudio Ricci, Priyamvada Natarajan, Ryan C. Hickox, Benny Trakhtenbrot, Ezequiel Treister, Anna K. Weigel, Yoshihiro Ueda, Michael J. Koss, F. E. Bauer, Matthew J. Temple, Mislav Baloković, Richard Mushotzky, Connor Auge, David B. Sanders, Darshan Kakkad, Lia F. Sartori, Stefano Marchesi, Fiona HarrisonDaniel Stern, Kyuseok Oh, Turgay Caglar, Meredith C. Powell, Stephanie A. Podjed, Julian E. Mejía-Restrepo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We constrain the intrinsic Eddington ratio (λ Edd) distribution function for local active galactic nuclei (AGN) in bins of low and high obscuration [ log ( N H / cm − 2 ) ≤ 22 and 22 < log ( N H / cm − 2 ) < 25 ], using the Swift Burst Alert Telescope 70 month/BASS DR2 survey. We interpret the fraction of obscured AGN in terms of circumnuclear geometry and temporal evolution. Specifically, at low Eddington ratios ( log λ Edd < −2), obscured AGN outnumber unobscured ones by a factor of ∼4, reflecting the covering factor of the circumnuclear material (0.8, or a torus opening angle of ∼34°). At high Eddington ratios ( log λ Edd > −1), the trend is reversed, with <30% of AGN having log ( N H / cm − 2 ) > 22 , which we suggest is mainly due to the small fraction of time spent in a highly obscured state. Considering the Eddington ratio distribution function of narrow-line and broad-line AGN from our prior work, we see a qualitatively similar picture. To disentangle temporal and geometric effects at high λ Edd, we explore plausible clearing scenarios such that the time-weighted covering factors agree with the observed population ratio. We find that the low fraction of obscured AGN at high λ Edd is primarily due to the fact that the covering factor drops very rapidly, with more than half the time spent with <10% covering factor. We also find that nearly all obscured AGN at high-λ Edd exhibit some broad lines. We suggest that this is because the height of the depleted torus falls below the height of the broad-line region, making the latter visible from all lines of sight.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL13
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


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