The XMM deep survey in the CDF-S: IV. Compton-thick AGN candidates

I. Georgantopoulos, A. Comastri, C. Vignali, P. Ranalli, E. Rovilos, K. Iwasawa, R. Gilli, N. Cappelluti, F. Carrera, J. Fritz, M. Brusa, D. Elbaz, R. J. Mullaney, N. Castello-Mor, X. Barcons, P. Tozzi, I. Balestra, S. Falocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The Chandra Deep Field is the region of the sky with the highest concentration of X-ray data available: 4 Ms of Chandra and 3 Ms of XMM-Newton data, allowing excellent quality spectra to be extracted even for faint sources. We took advantage of this to compile a sample of heavily obscured active galactic nuclei (AGN) using X-ray spectroscopy. We selected our sample among the 176 brightest XMM-Newton sources, searching for either flat X-ray spectra (Γ < 1.4 at the 90% confidence level) suggestive of a reflection dominated continuum or an absorption turn-over suggestive of a column density higher than ≈ 1024 cm-2. We found a sample of nine heavily-obscured sources satisfying the above criteria. Four of these show statistically significant FeKα lines with large equivalent widths (three out of four have equivalent widths consistent with 1 keV) suggesting that these are the most certain Compton-thick AGN candidates. Two of these sources are transmission dominated while the other two are most probably reflection dominated Compton-thick AGN. Although this sample of four sources is by no means statistically complete, it represents the best example of Compton-thick sources found at moderate-to-high redshift with three sources at z = 1.2-1.5 and one source at z = 3.7. Using Spitzer and Herschel observations, we estimate with good accuracy the X-ray to mid-IR (12 μm) luminosity ratio of our sources. These are well below the average AGN relation, independently suggesting that these four sources are heavily obscured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA43
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: active
  • Infrared: galaxies
  • X-rays: diffuse background
  • X-rays: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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