RE J1034+396: the origin of the soft X-ray excess and quasi-periodic oscillation

Matthew Middleton (Lead / Corresponding author), Chris Done, Martin Ward, Marek Gierliński, Nick Schurch

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78 Citations (Scopus)


The X-ray quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) seen in RE J1034+396 is so far unique amongst active galactic nuclei (AGN). Here, we look at another unique feature of RE J1034+396, namely its huge soft X-ray excess, to see if this is related in any way to the detection of the QPO. We show that all potential models considered for the soft energy excess can fit the 0.3-10 keV X-ray spectrum, but the energy dependence of the rapid variability (which is dominated by the QPO) strongly supports a spectral decomposition where the soft excess is from low-temperature Comptonization of the disc emission and remains mostly constant, while the rapid variability is produced by the power-law tail changing in normalization. The presence of the QPO in the tail rather than in the disc is a common feature in black hole binaries (BHBs), but low-temperature Comptonization of the disc spectrum is not generally seen in these systems. The main exception to this is GRS 1915+105, the only BHB which routinely shows super-Eddington luminosities. We speculate that the super-Eddington accretion rates lead to a change in disc structure, and that this also triggers the X-ray QPO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date7 Mar 2009
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2009


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Galaxies: active
  • X-rays: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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