The Nustar Extragalactic Surveys: The Number Counts of Active Galactic Nuclei and the Resolved Fraction of the Cosmic X-Ray Background

F. A. Harrison, J. Aird, F. Civano, G. Lansbury, J. R. Mullaney, D. R. Ballantyne, D. M. Alexander, D. Stern, M. Ajello, D. Barret, Finn Erland Christensen, Allan Hornstrup, Niels Jørgen Stenfeldt Westergaard

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We present the 3–8 keV and 8–24 keV number counts of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) identified in the NuclearSpectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) extragalactic surveys. NuSTAR has now resolved 33%–39% of the X-raybackground in the 8–24 keV band, directly identifying AGNs with obscuring columns up to ~1025 cm-2. In the softer 3–8 keV band the number counts are in general agreement with those measured by XMM-Newton and Chandra over the flux range 5 x 10-15 ≤ S(3–8 keV)/erg s-1 cm-2 ≤10-12 probed by NuSTAR. In the hard 8–24 keV band NuSTAR probes fluxes over the range 2 x 10-14 S(8–24 keV)/erg s-1 cm-2 ≤ 10-12, a factor ∼100 fainter than previous measurements. The 8–24 keV number counts match predictions from AGN populationsynthesis models, directly confirming the existence of a population of obscured and/or hard X-ray sources inferredfrom the shape of the integrated cosmic X-ray background. The measured NuSTAR counts lie significantly abovesimple extrapolation with a Euclidian slope to low flux of the Swift/BAT 15–55 keV number counts measured at higher fluxes (S(15–55 keV) ≤ 10−11 erg s-1 cm-2), reflecting the evolution of the AGN population between the Swift/BAT local (z < 0.1) sample and NuSTAR’s z ~ 1 sample. CXB synthesis models, which account for AGNevolution, lie above the Swift/BAT measurements, suggesting that they do not fully capture the evolution of obscured AGNs at low redshifts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number185
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

For full list of authors, see the publication.


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Galaxies: Seyfert
  • Surveys
  • X-rays: diffuse background
  • X-rays: galaxies

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