Chandra observations and classification of active galactic nucleus candidates correlated with auger UHECRs

William A. Terrano, Ingyin Zaw, Glennys R. Farrar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We report on Chandra X-ray observations of possible active galactic nuclei (AGNs) which have been correlated with ultrahigh energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) observed by the Pierre Auger Collaboration. Combining our X-ray observations with optical observations, we conclude that one-third of the 21 Veron-Cetty Veron (VCV) galaxies correlating with UHECRs in the first Auger data release are actually not AGNs. We review existing optical observations of the 20 VCV galaxies correlating with UHECRs in the second Auger data release and determine that three of them are not AGNs and two are uncertain. Overall, of the 57 published UHECRs with |b| > 10°, 22 or 23 correlate with true AGNs using the Auger correlation parameters. We also measured the X-ray luminosity of ESO139-G12 to complete the determination of the bolometric luminosities of AGNs correlating with UHECRs in the first data set. Apart from two candidate sources which require further observation, we determined bolometric luminosities for the candidate galaxies of the second data set. We find that only 2 of the total of 69 published UHECRs correlate with AGNs (IC5135 and IC4329a) which are powerful enough in their steady state to accelerate protons to the observed energies of their correlated UHECRs. The GZK expectation is that 45% of the sources of UHECRs above 60 EeV should be contained within the z < 0.018 volume defined by the Auger scan analysis, so an observed level of 30%-50% correlation with weak AGNs is compatible with the suggestion that AGNs experience transient high-luminosity states during which they accelerate UHECRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • X-rays: galaxies
  • cosmic rays
  • galaxies: active

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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