Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project. VII. Understanding the Ultraviolet Anomaly in NGC 5548 with X-Ray Spectroscopy
During the Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project (STORM) observations of NGC 5548, the continuum and emission-line variability became decorrelated during the second half of the 6-month-long observing campaign. Here we present Swift and Chandra X-ray spectra of NGC 5548 obtained as a part of the campaign. The Swift spectra show that excess flux (relative to a power-law continuum) in the soft X-ray band appears before the start of the anomalous emission-line behavior, peaks during the period of the anomaly, and then declines. This is a modelindependent result suggesting that the soft excess is related to the anomaly. We divide the Swift data into on- and off-anomaly spectra to characterize the soft excess via spectral fitting. The cause of the spectral differences is likely due to a change in the intrinsic spectrum rather than to variable obscuration or partial covering. The Chandra spectra have lower signal-to-noise ratios, but are consistent with the Swift data. Our preferred model of the soft excess is emission from an optically thick, warm Comptonizing corona, the effective optical depth of which increases during the anomaly. This models imultaneously explains all three observations: the UV emission-line flux decrease, the soft-excess increase, and the emission-line anomaly.
Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 846, No. 55.