Chandra detects relativistic broad absorption lines from APM 08279+5255

G. Chartas, W. N. Brandt, S. C. Gallagher, G. P. Garmire

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We report the discovery of X-ray broad absorption lines (BALs) from the BAL quasar APM 08279+5255 originating from material moving at relativistic velocities with respect to the central source. The large flux magnification by a factor of ∼100 provided by the gravitational lens effect combined with the large redshift (z = 3.91) of the quasar have facilitated the acquisition of the first high signal-to-noise X-ray spectrum of a quasar containing X-ray BALs. Our analysis of the X-ray spectrum of APM 08279+5255 places the rest-frame energies of the two observed absorption lines at 8.1 and 9.8 keV. The detection of each of these lines is significant at a greater than 99.9% confidence level based on the F-test. Assuming that the absorption lines are from Fe XXV Kα, the implied bulk velocities of the X-ray BALs are ∼0.2c and ∼0.4c, respectively. The observed high bulk velocities of the X-ray BALs combined with the relatively short recombination timescales of the X-ray-absorbing gas imply that the absorbers responsible for the X-ray BALs are located at radii of ≲2 × 1017 cm, within the expected location of the UV absorber. With this implied geometry, the X-ray gas could provide the necessary shielding to prevent the UV absorber from being completely ionized by the central X-ray source, consistent with hydrodynamical simulations of line-driven disk winds. Estimated mass-outflow rates for the gas creating the X-ray BALs are typically less than a solar mass per year. Our spectral analysis also indicates that the continuum X-ray emission of APM 08279+5255 is consistent with that of a typical radio-quiet quasar with a spectral slope of Γ = 1.72-0.05+0.06.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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