The redshift evolution of the 2-8 keV X-ray luminosity function

L. L. Cowie, A. J. Barger, M. W. Bautz, W. N. Brandt, G. P. Garmire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The high angular resolution and sensitivity of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has yielded large numbers of faint X-ray sources with measured redshifts in the soft-energy (0.5-2 keV) and hard-energy (2-8 keV) bands. Many of these sources show few obvious optical signatures of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). We use Chandra observations of the Hubble Deep Field-North region, A370, and the Hawaii Survey fields SSA 13 and SSA 22, together with the ROSAT Ultra Deep Survey soft sample and the ASCA Large Sky Survey hard sample, to construct rest-frame 2-8 keV luminosity functions versus redshift for all the X-ray sources, regardless of their optical AGN characteristics. At z = 0.1-1, most of the 2-8 keV light density arises in sources with luminosities in the 10 42-1044 ergs s-1 range. We show that the number density of sources in this luminosity range is rising, or is at least constant, with decreasing redshift. Broad-line AGNs are the dominant population at higher luminosities, and these sources show the well-known rapid positive evolution with increasing redshift to z ∼ 3. We argue that the dominant supermassive black hole formation has occurred at recent times in objects with low accretion mass flow rates rather than at earlier times in more X-ray-luminous objects with high accretion mass flow rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L57-L60
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Feb 20 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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