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The Central Engines of 19 LINERs as Viewed by Chandra

Research paper by H. M. L. G. Flohic, M. Eracleous, G. Chartas, J. C. Shields, E. C. Moran

Indexed on: 23 Apr '06Published on: 23 Apr '06Published in: Astrophysics



Abstract

Using archival Chandra observations of 19 LINERs we explore the X-ray properties of their inner kiloparsec to determine the origin of their nuclear X-ray emission, to investigate the presence of an AGN, and to identify the power source of the optical emission lines. The relative numbers of LINER types in our sample are similar to those in optical spectroscopic surveys. We find that diffuse, thermal emission is very common and is concentrated within the central few hundred parsec. The average spectra of the hot gas in spirals and ellipticals are very similar to those of normal galaxies. They can be fitted with a thermal plasma (kT~0.5 keV) plus a power law (photon index of 1.3-1.5) model. There are on average 3 detected point sources in their inner kiloparsec with L(0.5-10 keV)~10^37-10^40 erg/s. The average cumulative luminosity functions for sources in spirals and ellipticals are identical to those of normal galaxies. In the innermost circle of 2.5" radius in each galaxy we find an AGN in 12 of the 19 galaxies. The AGNs contribute a median of 60% of the 0.5-10 keV luminosity of the central 2.5" region, they have luminosities of 10^37-10^39 erg/s (Eddington ratios 10^-8 to 10^-5). The ionizing luminosity of the AGNs is not enough to power the observed optical emission lines in this particular sample. Thus, we suggest that the lines are powered either by the mechanical interaction of an AGN jet (or wind) with the circumnuclear gas, or by stellar processes, e.g. photoionization by post-AGB stars or young stars.