Spitzer mid-infrared spectroscopy of distant X-ray luminous active galactic nuclei

Kate Brand, Dan W. Weedman, Vandana Desai, Emeric Le Floc'h, Lee Armus, Arjun Dey, Jim R. Houck, Buell T. Jannuzi, Howard A. Smith, B. T. Soifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We present mid-infrared spectroscopy of a sample of 16 optically faint infrared luminous galaxies obtained with the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) on the Spitzer Space Telescope. These sources were jointly selected from Spitzer and Chandra imaging surveys in the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey Boötes field and were selected from their bright X-ray fluxes to host luminous AGNs. None of the spectra show significant emission from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; 6.2 μm equivalent widths <0.2 μm), consistent with their infrared emission being dominated by AGNs. Nine of the X-ray sources show 9.7 μm silicate absorption features. Their redshifts are in the range 0.9 < z < 2.6, implying infrared luminosities of log LIR = 12.5-13.6 L . The average silicate absorption is not as strong as that of previously targeted optically faint infrared luminous galaxies with similar mid-infrared luminosities, implying that the X-ray selection favors sources behind a smaller column of Si-rich dust than non-X-ray selection. Seven of the X-ray sources have featureless power-law mid-infrared spectra. We argue that the featureless spectra likely result from the sources having weak or absent silicate and PAH features rather than the sources lying at higher redshifts, where these features are shifted out of the IRS spectral window. We investigate whether there are any correlations between X-ray and infrared properties and find that sources with silicate absorption features tend to have fainter X-ray fluxes and harder X-ray spectra, indicating a weak relation between the amount of silicate absorption and the column density of X-ray-absorbing gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2008


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • Infrared: galaxies
  • Quasars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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