Compton-Thick AGN: The Dark Side of the X-Ray Background [chapter]

Andrea Comastri
2004 Astrophysics and Space Science Library  
The spectrum of the hard X-ray background records the history of accretion processes integrated over the cosmic time. Several pieces of observational and theoretical evidence indicate that a significant fraction of the energy density is obscured by large columns of gas and dust. The absorbing matter is often very thick, with column densities exceeding N_H > 1.5 10^24 cm-2, the value corresponding to unity optical depth for Compton scattering. These sources are called "Compton thick" and appear
more » ... o be very numerous, at least in the nearby universe. Although Compton thick Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are thought to provide an important contribution to the overall cosmic energy budget, their space density and cosmological evolution are poorly known. The properties of Compton thick AGN are reviewed here, with particular emphasis on their contributions to the extragalactic background light in the hard X-ray and infrared bands.
doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-2471-9_8 fatcat:vl3awxzkc5gvxbyxjwkatdn3yq