Equivalent width, shape and proper motion of the iron fluorescent line emission from the molecular clouds as an indicator of the illuminating source X-ray flux history

R. Sunyaev,1,2 E. Churazov,1,2

1 MPI fur Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 1, 85740 Garching, Germany
2 Space Research Institute (IKI), Profsouznaya 84/32, Moscow 117810, Russia

Paper: to appear in MNRAS

EPrint Server: astro-ph/9805038


Observations of the diffuse emission in the 8-22 keV energy range, elongated parallel to the Galactic plane \citesmp93 and detection of the strong 6.4 keV fluorescent line with ~ 1 keV equivalent width from some giant molecular clouds (e.g. Sgr B2) in the Galactic Centre region \citekoy94 suggest that the neutral matter of these clouds is (or was) illuminated by powerful X-ray radiation, which gave rise to the reprocessed radiation. The source of this radiation remains unknown. Transient source close to the Sgr B2 cloud or short outburst of the X-ray emission from supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre are the two prime candidates under consideration. We argue that new generation of X-ray telescopes combining very high sensitivity and excellent energy and angular resolutions would be able to discriminate between these two possibilities studying time dependent changes of the morphology of the surface brightness distribution, the equivalent width and the shape of the fluorescent line in the Sgr B2 and other molecular clouds in the region. We note also that detection of broad and complex structures near the 6.4 keV line in the spectra of distant AGNs, which are X-ray weak now, may prove the presence of violent activity of the central engines of these objects in the past. Accurate measurements of the line shape may provide an information on the time elapsed since the outburst. Proper motion (super or subluminal) of the fluorescent radiation wave front can give additional information on the location of the source. Observations of the described effects can provide unique information on the matter distribution inside Sgr B2 and other giant molecular clouds.

Preprints available from the authors at churazov@MPA-Garching.MPG.DE , or the raw TeX (no figures) if you click here.

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