About relxill

general information about the model

relxill is a new reflection model, which can be readily used in common X-ray data analysis tools such as isis, xspec, or sherpa. It joins forces of the xillver reflection code (Garcia et al., 2010, 2011, 2013) and the relline ray tracing code (Dauser et al., 2010, 2013). The striking new feature is that for each point on the disk the proper xillver-reflection spectrum is chosen for each relativistically calculated emission angle. The implications of this improvement and more details regarding the model are provided in Garcia & Dauser et al. (2014, ApJ, 782, 76) and Dauser & Garcia et al. (2014, MNRAS, 444, L100).

The very recent version has been completely re-written, leading to a more stable and faster model evaluation. Moreover, for some of the model flavors it is possible to use a multi-zone disk. This update solves the issue pointed out in some publications that the input spectrum changes throught the disk due to GR energy shifts. Therefore results for the lamp post flavour relxill models will slightly differ to the previous version, while all other models produce identical results. The changes are mainly compensated by a decrease of the cutoff energy around 10%.

basic features of the relxill model package
  • simple line models and convolution models
  • the xillver reflection model
  • cutoff power law and nthcomp as primary continuum
  • relxill: combining xillver reflection with relativistic smearing
  • irradiation of the disk by broken power law or lamp post geometry
  • self-consistent normalization of primary and reflected spectrum
  • multi-zone disk for the primary spectrum in the lamp post geometry

Download and Installation

current version of the model: [v1.2.0]

First download all necessary files given in the download section. It is not necessary to download all reflection tables. If those are required, a warning is issued when executing the model.

To compile the model, put all of the downloaded files into a directory, and unpack them:

tar xfz relxill_tables.tgz
tar xfz relxill_model_v1.2.0.tgz

In order to compile the model, it is recommended that you call the provided compile-script by executing:

  chmod u+x ./compile_relxill.sh

In this way the path to the tables will be correctly set in the model code, allowing you to properly load the model from any location. If you have a Mac OSX and setting the table paths fails, you might need to edit the file and un-comment line marked for "Mac OSX".

ALTERNATIVE: If you don't want to use this compile script, you can also set the path to the tables by setting the environment variable "RELXILL_TABLE_PATH" to the directory which contains the tables.

Change Log

  • [v1.2.0] reverting the wrong change for the emissivity profile introduced by 1.1.0, change (1). Information on the update from 1.0.x to 1.2.0 can be found in this pdf. Besides this change, the environment variable RELLINE_PHYSICAL_NORM has been added. If set to 1, it will return the acutal normalization of the relline and relconv type models (not recommended for fitting). - 2018-08-07
  • [v1.1.0] Major update and bug fix, mainly for the lamp post version. The spectral shape of the standard relxill remains unchanged. (1) The emissivity profile in the lamp post geometry has been corrected, leading to a steeper radial dependency this change was incorrected and has been reverted in v1.2.0. (2) fixing a wrong normalization of the reflected spectrum, mainly affecting models with a large inclination angle (3) removing the re-normalization with RENORM_RELXILL_MODEL (4) updating the relativistic table, to achieve a more precise calculation of relativstic blurring for very low inclinations. - 2018-07-27
  • [v1.0.4] only applies to the LP model flavors
    fixed inconsistencies and problems with the normalization of the reflection component of relxilllp and relxilllpCp, affecting only LP sources at large height (>20Rg) and Rout<1000 Rg, or with Rin>R_ISCO. The spectral shape and therefore eventually fitting parameters were only affected if fixReflFrac=1,2 was set. Additionally, problems with caching which sometimes occured when changing the inclination by a large were also fixed. - 2018-03-07
  • [v1.0.3] fixed relconv normalization (same now as for the previous relxill version) and in relxilllpCp temperature is now correctly given in the rest frame of the primary source - 2017-12-06
  • [v1.0.2] solved segmentation fault if model was executed in folder without write permission - 2017-08-03
  • [v1.0.1] added possiblity to change the re-normalization behaviour of the models with the environment variable RENORM_RELXILL_MODEL - 2017-06-23
  • [v1.0.0] first version of the new relxill model, including now multiple zones for the LP-relxill model flavours. All other models produce the same results, but all models are evaluated significantly faster - 2017-06-08

relxill model flavors

relxill, relxillCp

Standard relativistic reflection model, modeling the irradiation of the accretion by a broken power law emissivity. Different flavors are for an incident spectrum by either the standard high-energy cutoff powerlaw or an nthcomp Comptonization continuum (Cp).

relativistic reflection in coronal geometry

relxilllp, relxilllpCp

The relativistic reflection model for the lamp post geometry, again for an incident cutoff powerlaw or nthcomp spectrum (Cp). The disk is split in multiple zones, which see a different incident spectrum due to relativistic energy shifts of the primary spectrum.

lamp post geometry

xillver, xillverCp

normal reflection models, given for different incident spectra; powerlaw with high-energy cutoff (xillver) or with a nthcomp Comptonization (xillverCp).

non-relativistic reflection model

relline, relline_lp

simple line model, available in the coronal and lamp post (lp) geometry

line model, corona, lamp post

relconv, relconv_lp

similar to the line models, but now as a convolution model being able to convolve any reflection

flexible convolution model

xillverD, relxillD, relxilllpD

Same as the standard reflection models (xillver, relxill, relxilllp) but allowing a higher density for the accretion disk (between 1015 to 1019 cm-3). However, the high-energy cutoff is fixed at 300 keV at the moment.

high density accretion disk models

relxill model parameters

In the following, a list of all model parameters ia given. Some parameters have a special meaning if their value is negative, as also indicated in the list below.


spin of the black hole in dimensionless units, negative values mean the accretion disk is counter-rotating with respect to the black hole


inclination towards the system with respect to the normal to the accretion disk

Index1, Index2, Rbr

the emissivity for the coronal flavor models is given as r-Index1 between Rin and Rbr and r-Index2 between Rbr and Rout. Rbr is measured in gravitational radii, but can also be given in units of the ISCO if given in negative values.


Height of the primary source above the black hole in gravitational radii. Can be given in units of the event horizon if set to negative values.


reflection fraction, defined in the frame of the primary source as ratio of intensity emitted towards the disk compared to escaping to infinity (see Dauser+2016 for more details). If set to a negative value, only the reflected component is returned.


switch, which set to 0 allows to fit the reflection freely and if set to 1 fixed to the predicted value of the current parameter configuration in the lamp post geometry. If set to 2, the model behaves similar to 1, but is displaying information on the calculated reflection fraction, strength, and fraction of photons falling into the black hole. Additionally the grav. redshift from the observer to the primary source is given.

Rin, Rout

inner and outer radius of the accretion disk in gravitational radii. Can also be given in units of the ISCO, when it is set to negative values.


Ionization of the accretion disk, ranging from 0 (neutral) to 4.7 (heavily ionized).


The iron abundance of the material in the accretion disk (in units of solar abundance).


Power law index of the incident spectrum.

Ecut, kTe

Parameter describing the observed high energy cutoff Ecut of the primary spectrum. In case of the nthcomp input spectrum it is given as electron temperature in the corona (kTe). Important: As Ecut is given in the frame of the observer, the value at the primary source has to be calculated by multiplying with the redshift factor (see fixReflFrac=2).


The density of the accretion disk (in cm-3) given in logarithmic units. Models not containing this parameter are calculated for a fixed density of 1015 cm-3.


redshift to the source

Additional Information

  • NTHCOMP: The nthcomp model is the standard xspec local model. Hidden parameters for the calculation of the continum for every Cp-type model are that kT_bb=0.05 and inp_type=1.
  • RELLINE_PHYSICAL_NORM: Since [v1.2.0] the environment variable RELLINE_PHYSICAL_NORM can be set to 1, which will return the physical normalization of relline and relconv type models. Setting this for fitting is not recommended.

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