Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Flaring from the supermassive black hole in Mrk 335 studied with Swift and NuSTAR


Dirk Grupe

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Monitoring of the narrow line Seyfert 1 galaxy Markarian 335 (Mrk 335) with the Swift satellite discovered an X-ray flare beginning 2014 August 29. At the peak, the 0.5–5 keV count rate had increased from that in the low-flux state by a factor of 10. A target of opportunity observation was triggered with NuSTAR, catching the decline of the flare on 2014 September 20. We present a joint analysis of Swift and NuSTAR observations to understand the cause of this flare. The X-ray spectrum shows an increase in directly observed continuum flux and the softening of the continuum spectrum to a photon index of 2.49+0.08 −0.07 compared to the previous low flux observations. The X-ray spectrum remains well described by the relativistically blurred reflection of the continuum from the accretion disc whose emissivity profile suggests that it is illuminated by a compact X-ray source, extending at most 5.2 rg over the disc. A very low reflection fraction of 0.41+0.15 −0.15 is measured, unexpected for such a compact corona. The X-ray flare is, hence, interpreted as arising from the vertical collimation and ejection of the X-ray emitting corona at a mildly relativistic velocity, causing the continuum emission to be beamed away from the disc. As the flare subsides, the base of this jet-like structure collapses into a compact X-ray source that provides the majority of the radiation that illuminates the disc while continuum emission is still detected from energetic particles further out, maintaining the low reflection fraction.