Molecular tori in Seyfert galaxies - Feeding the monster and hiding it
ABSTRACT The principal properties of the tori of gas which surround Seyfert nuclei are discussed. The internal state of the clouds and their size distribution function are examined, and it is shown that the Jeans mass scale results in clouds which are individually sufficiently opaque to block out the nucleus, and that the balance of processes which controls their size distribution function also forces the covering factor to be of the order of or greater than unity. Where the gravitational potential is dominated by stars, cloud-cloud collisions keep the molecular clouds close to the equatorial plane. Stirring by stellar processes is never strong enough to compete with collisional losses. The position of the inner edge of the torus is determined by a balance between the inward flow of clouds and the rate at which the nuclear continuum can evaporate them.
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ABSTRACT: We use photometric and spectroscopic infrared observations obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope of 12 radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN) to investigate the dust geometry. Our approach is to look at the change of the infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) and the strength of the 10 micron silicate feature with jet viewing angle. We find that (i) a combination of three or four blackbodies fits well the infrared SED; (ii) the sources viewed closer to the jet axis appear to have stronger warm (~300 - 800 K) and cold (~150 - 250 K) dust emissions relative to the hot component; and (iii) the silicate features are always in emission and strongly redshifted. We test clumpy torus models and find that (i) they approximate well the mid-infrared part of the SED, but significantly underpredict the fluxes at both near- and far-infrared wavelengths; (ii) they can constrain the dust composition (in our case to that of the standard interstellar medium); (iii) they require relatively large (~10%-20% the speed of light) redward displacements; and (iv) they give robust total mass estimates, but are insensitive to the assumed geometry. Comment: 17 pages, 12 figures, accepted by MNRASMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 07/2010; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We present a Chandra monitoring campaign of the highly variable Seyfert galaxy UGC 4203 (the "Phoenix Galaxy") which revealed variations in the X-ray absorbing column density on time scales of two weeks. This is the third, clear case, after NGC 1365 and NGC 7582, of dramatic N_H variability on short time scales observed in a "changing look" source, i.e. an AGN observed in the past in both a reflection-dominated and a Compton-thin state. The inferred limits on the distance of the X-ray absorber from the center suggest that the X-ray "torus" could be one and the same with the broad emission line region. This scenario, first proposed for an "ad-hoc" picture for NGC 1365, may be the common structure of the circumnuclear medium in AGN. Comment: 5 Pages, 4 figures. Accepted for publication in MNRAS. Missing references added and typos correctedMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2010; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The number of publications of aperture-synthesis images based on optical long-baseline interferometry measurements has recently increased due to easier access to visible and infrared interferometers. The interferometry technique has now reached a technical maturity level that opens new avenues for numerous astrophysical topics requiring milli-arcsecond model-independent imaging. In writing this paper our motivation was twofold: 1) review and publicize emblematic excerpts of the impressive corpus accumulated in the field of optical interferometry image reconstruction; 2) discuss future prospects for this technique by selecting four representative astrophysical science cases in order to review the potential benefits of using optical long baseline interferometers. For this second goal we have simulated interferometric data from those selected astrophysical environments and used state-of-the-art codes to provide the reconstructed images that are reachable with current or soon-to-be facilities. The image reconstruction process was "blind" in the sense that reconstructors had no knowledge of the input brightness distributions. We discuss the impact of optical interferometry in those four astrophysical fields. We show that image reconstruction software successfully provides accurate morphological information on a variety of astrophysical topics and review the current strengths and weaknesses of such reconstructions. We investigate how to improve image reconstruction and the quality of the image possibly by upgrading the current facilities. We finally argue that optical interferometers and their corresponding instrumentation, existing or to come, with 6 to 10 telescopes, should be well suited to provide images of complex sceneries.Astronomy and Astrophysics Review 04/2012; 20(1). · 9.50 Impact Factor