Free-Free Radiation Cannot Make\\the UV/Soft-X-Ray Excess in AGN

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Session 13 -- Models or Gas Flows and Spectral Formation
Display presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[13.08] Free-Free Radiation Cannot Make\\the UV/Soft-X-Ray Excess in AGN

G. A. Kriss (JHU)

Thermal gas always has associated atomic spectral features either in absorption or in emission. In optically thin gas the emission spectrum is dominated by line radiation and recombination continua. An example of radiation from optically thin material in accreting systems is the emission-line-dominated spectrum of a cataclysmic variable in its low state.

Barvainis (1993, ApJ, 412, 513) and others have proposed that the UV/soft-X-ray excess prominent in the spectra of many AGN is due to free-free emission from gas at temperatures of $10^5 - 10^6$ K. Simple arguments using only atomic data show that the recombination radiation from emission lines would produce UV, optical, and soft X-ray spectral features orders of magnitude stronger than observed. Collisional excitation produces even more line radiation under most physical conditions.

As a particular example I take the Astro-1 observations of the Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 335 by HUT and BBXRT. Depending on the ionization state of the gas (which may be photoionized by the central source), the emission measure of the free-free radiation necessary to produce the UV continuum ($3 \times 10^{68} \rm cm^{-3}$ at $8.2 \times 10^5$ K for $\rm H_o = 75~km~s^{-1}~Mpc^{-1}$) implies line emission from O VI, O VII, or O VIII more than a factor of 10 stronger than any features observed by HUT or BBXRT.

Monday program listing