Lifting the curtain: The Seyfert galaxy Mrk 335 emerges from deep low-state in a sequence of rapid flare events
Context. The narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 335 was one of the X-ray brightest active galactic nuclei, but it has systematically faded since 2007. Aims. We report the discovery with Swift of a sequence of bright and rapid X-ray flare events that reveal the emergence of Mrk 335 from its ultra-deep multiyear low state.
Methods. Results are based on our dedicated multiyear monitoring of Mrk 335 with Swift. Results. Unlike other bright active galactic nuclei, the optical–UV is generally not correlated with the X-rays in Mrk 335 on a timescale of days to months. This fact either implies the absence of a direct link between the two emission components; or else it implies that the observed X-rays are significantly aected by (dust-free) absorption along our line of sight. The UV and optical, however, are closely correlated at the 99.99% confidence level. The UV is leading the optical by t = 1:5 1:5d. The Swift X-ray spectrum shows strong deviations from a single power law in all brightness states of the outbursts, indicating that significant absorption or reprocessing is taking place. Mrk 335 displays a softer-when-brighter variability pattern at intermediate X-ray count rates, which has been seen in our Swift data since 2007 (based on a total of 590 observations). This pattern breaks down at the highest and lowest count rates.
Conclusions. We interpret the 2020 brightening of Mrk 335 as a decrease in column density and covering factor of a partial-covering absorber along our line of sight in the form of a clumpy accretion-disk wind that reveals an increasing portion of the intrinsic emission of Mrk 335 from the disk and/or corona region, while the optical emission-line regions receive a less variable spectral energy distribution. This then also explains why Mrk 335 was never seen to change its optical Seyfert type (not ‘changing look’) despite its factor 50 X-ray variability with Swift.
Astronomy & Astrophysics, 643, L7.
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