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Keywords:

  • galaxies: active;
  • quasars: individual: 3C 111;
  • X-rays: galaxies

ABSTRACT

We present the analysis of Suzaku and XMM–Newton observations of the broad-line radio galaxy (BLRG) 3C 111. Its high-energy emission shows variability, a harder continuum with respect to the radio-quiet active galactic nucleus population, and weak reflection features. Suzaku found the source in a minimum flux level; a comparison with the XMM–Newton data implies an increase of a factor of 2.5 in the 0.5–10 keV flux, in the 6 months separating the two observations. The iron K complex is detected in both data sets, with rather low equivalent width(s). The intensity of the iron K complex does not respond to the change in continuum flux. An ultrafast, high-ionization outflowing gas is clearly detected in the Suzaku/X-ray Imaging Spectrometer data; the absorber is most likely unstable. Indeed, during the XMM–Newton observation, which was 6 months after, the absorber was not detected. No clear rollover in the hard X-ray emission is detected, probably due to the emergence of the jet as a dominant component in the hard X-ray band, as suggested by the detection above ∼100 keV with the GSO onboard Suzaku, although the present data do not allow us to firmly constrain the relative contribution of the different components. The fluxes observed by the γ-ray satellites CGRO and Fermi would be compatible with the putative jet component if peaking at energies E∼ 100 MeV. In the X-ray band, the jet contribution to the continuum starts to be significant only above 10 keV. If the detection of the jet component in 3C 111 is confirmed, then its relative importance in the X-ray energy band could explain the different observed properties in the high-energy emission of BLRGs, which are otherwise similar in their other multiwavelength properties. Comparison between X-ray and γ-ray data taken at different epochs suggests that the strong variability observed for 3C 111 is probably driven by a change in the primary continuum.