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Relativistic iron K X-ray reverberation in NGC 4151




Recent X-ray observations have enabled the study of reverberation delays in active galactic nuclei (AGN) for the first time. All the detections so far are in sources with a strong soft excess, and the measured delay is between the hard (1–3 keV) direct continuum and the soft excess (0.5–1 keV), interpreted as the reflection continuum smeared by relativistic effects. There is however an inherent ambiguity in identifying and studying the details of the lines in the soft excess. Here we report the first detection of reverberation in the iron K band in any AGN. Using XMM–Newton observations of NGC 4151, we find delays of the order of 2000 s on time-scales of 105 s between the inline image keV band and the inline image and inline image keV bands, with a broad lag profile resembling a relativistically broadened iron line. The peak of the lag spectra shifts to lower energies at higher frequencies, consistent with the red wing of the line being emitted at smaller radii, as expected from reflection off the inner accretion disc. This is a first detection of a broad iron line using timing studies.