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The effects of a comptonizing corona on the appearance of the reflection components in accreting black hole spectra

  • Petrucci, P. O.
  • Merloni, A.
  • Fabian, A.
  • Haardt, F.
  • Gallo, E.
Published Article
Publication Date
Aug 21, 2001
Submission Date
Aug 21, 2001
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2001.04897.x
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We discuss the effects of a comptonizing corona on the appearance of the reflection components, and in particular of the reflection hump, in the X-rays spectra of accreting black holes. Indeed, in the framework of a thermal corona model, we expect that part (or even all, depending on the coronal covering factor) of the reflection features should cross the hot plasma, and thus suffer Compton scattering, before being observed. We have studied in detail the dependence of these effects on the physical (i.e. temperature and optical depth) and geometrical (i.e. inclination angle) parameters of the corona, concentrating on the slab geometry . Due to the smoothing and shifting towards high energies of the comptonized reflection hump, the main effects on the emerging spectra appear above 100 keV. We have also investigated the importance of such effects on the interpretation of the results obtained with the standard fitting procedures. We found that fitting Comptonization models, taking into account comptonized reflection, by the usual cut-off power law + uncomptonized reflection model, may lead to an underestimation of the reflection normalization and an overestimation of the high energy cut-off. We discuss and illustrate the importance of these effects by analysing recent observational results as those of the galaxy NGC 4258. We also find that the comptonizing corona can produce and/or emphasize correlations between the reflection features characteristics (like the iron line equivalent width or the covering fraction) and the X-ray spectral index similar to those recently reported in the literature. We also underline the importance of these effects when dealing with accurate spectral fitting of the X-ray background.

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