Edinburgh Research Explorer

The evolution of the X-ray luminosity functions of unabsorbed and absorbed AGNs out to z~5

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • James Aird
  • Alison L. Coil
  • Antonis Georgakakis
  • Kirpal Nandra
  • Guillermo Barro
  • Pablo G. Perez-Gonzalez

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1892-1927
Number of pages36
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


We present new measurements of the evolution of the X-ray luminosity functions (XLFs) of unabsorbed and absorbed active galactic nuclei (AGNs) out to z ∼ 5. We construct samples containing 2957 sources detected at hard (2–7 keV) X-ray energies and 4351 sources detected at soft (0.5–2 keV) energies from a compilation of Chandra surveys supplemented by wide-area surveys from ASCA and ROSAT. We consider the hard and soft X-ray samples separately and find that the XLF based on either (initially neglecting absorption effects) is best described by a new flexible model parametrization where the break luminosity, normalization, and faint-end slope all evolve with redshift. We then incorporate absorption effects, separately modelling the evolution of the XLFs of unabsorbed (20 < log NH < 22) and absorbed (22 < log NH < 24) AGNs, seeking a model that can reconcile both the hard- and soft-band samples. We find that the absorbed AGN XLF has a lower break luminosity, a higher normalization, and a steeper faint-end slope than the unabsorbed AGN XLF out to z ∼ 2. Hence, absorbed AGNs dominate at low luminosities, with the absorbed fraction falling rapidly as luminosity increases. Both XLFs undergo strong luminosity evolution which shifts the transition in the absorbed fraction to higher luminosities at higher redshifts. The evolution in the shape of the total XLF is primarily driven by the changing mix of unabsorbed and absorbed populations.

    Research areas

  • astro-ph.HE, astro-ph.GA

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 154915410