During the Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project observations of NGC 5548, the continuum and emission-line variability became decorrelated during the second half of the six-month-long observing campaign. Here we present Swift and Chandra X-ray spectra of NGC 5548 obtained as part of the campaign. The Swift spectra show that excess flux (relative to a power-law continuum) in the soft X-ray band appears before the start of the anomalous emission-line behavior, peaks during the period of the anomaly, and then declines. This is a model-independent result suggesting that the soft excess is related to the anomaly. We divide the Swift data into on- and off-anomaly spectra to characterize the soft excess via spectral fitting. The cause of the spectral differences is likely due to a change in the intrinsic spectrum rather than to variable obscuration or partial covering. The Chandra spectra have lower signal-to-noise ratios, but are consistent with the Swift data. Our preferred model of the soft excess is emission from an optically thick, warm Comptonizing corona, the effective optical depth of which increases during the anomaly. This model simultaneously explains all three observations: the UV emission-line flux decrease, the soft-excess increase, and the emission-line anomaly.

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Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 846, no. 1, 55, p. 1-9.

© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Due to the large number of authors, only the first 30 and the authors affiliated with the University of Kentucky are listed in the author section above. For the complete list of authors, please download this article.

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Support for this work was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Chandra Award Number G04-15114X to S.M. issued by the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of NASA under contract NAS8-03060. Support for HST program GO-13330 was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. C.S.K. is supported in part by NSF grants AST-1515876 and AST-1515927. K.H. acknowledges support from STFC grant ST/M001296/1. K.L.P. and P.A.E. ackowledge support from the UK Space Agency. A.V.F.'s group at UC Berkeley is grateful for financial assistance from NSF grant AST-1211916, the TABASGO Foundation, and the Christopher R. Redlich Fund. Y.K. acknowledges support from the grant PAIIPIT IN104215 and CONACYT grant168519.