Active galactic nuclei synapses: X-ray versus optical classifications using artificial neural networks

Omaira Gonzalez Martin
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8 Jul 2014 - 12:30 Europe/London


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The active galactic nuclei is conformed by a number of classes. Optically they are defined using diagnostics based on optical emission lines. At X-rays they are classified by the power of the AGN continuum and the shape of the X-ray spectra. Therefore, optical and X-ray classes are independent classifications. However, optical and X-ray classes show many discrepancies not fully understood yet. Some AGN at X-rays do not show any AGN signature at optical wavelengths (called optical elusive). Classical obscured AGN are ’sometimes’ not obscured at X-rays.

We have studied the ‘synapses’ between them using artificial neural networks (Gonzalez-Martin+14). To do so, we used flux-calibrated X-ray spectra of a sample of 90 emission line nuclei (ELN) observed with XMM-Newton. It includes starbursts (SB), transition objects (T2), LINERs (L1.8 and L2), and Seyferts (S1, S1.8, and S2).

The ELN can be classified into six classes, based on the shape of their X-ray spectra. These classes are associated with most of the optical classes. The key parameters to explain them at X-rays are three. The first parameter is an AGN-like component, which is present in all of them (even non-AGN at optical wavelengths!). The second one is obscuration, which almost certainly drives the Type-1/Type-2 dichotomy, but may also explain why L1.8 are more similar to S1s while L2/T2 are more similar to S1.8s. The third component is star-forming activity happening at the host galaxy and contributing at X-rays. The AGN strength, relative to the host-galaxy component, determines the average X-ray spectrum for these classes as follows: S1 -> S1.8 -> L1.8/S2 -> L2/T2/ -> SB.