Predicting the X-ray polarization of type 2 Seyfert galaxies

Academic Article


  • Infrared, optical and ultraviolet spectropolarimetric observations have proven to be ideal tools for the study of the hidden nuclei of type-2 active galactic nuclei (AGN) and for constraining the composition and morphology of the sub-parsec scale emission components. In this paper, we extend the analysis to the polarization of the X-rays from type-2 AGN. Combining two radiative transfer codes, we performed the first simulations of photons originating in the gravity dominated vicinity of the black hole and scattering in structures all the way out to the parsec-scale torus and polar winds. We demonstrate that, when strong gravity effects are accounted for, the X-ray polarimetric signal of Seyfert-2s carries as much information about the central AGN components as spectropolarimetric observations of Seyfert-1s. The spectropolarimetric measurements can constrain the spin of the central supermassive black hole even in edge-on AGN, the hydrogen column density along the observer's line-of-sight, and the composition of the polar outflows. However, the polarization state of the continuum source is washed out by multiple scattering, and should not be measurable unless the initial polarization is exceptionally strong. Finally, we estimate that modern X-ray polarimeters, either based on the photo-electric effect or on Compton scattering, will require long observational times on the order of a couple of mega-seconds to be able to properly measure the polarization of type-2 AGN.
  • Authors

  • Marin, F
  • Dovciak, M
  • Muleri, F
  • Kislat, Fabian
  • Krawczynski, HS
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2018
  • Has Subject Area


  • X-rays: general
  • galaxies: active
  • polarization
  • radiative transfer
  • relativistic processes
  • scattering
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1286
  • End Page

  • 1316
  • Volume

  • 473
  • Issue

  • 1