N. A. Levenson

Gemini Observatory, Hilo, Hawaii, United States

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Publications (130)426.36 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present a time series of 8 - 13 $\mu$m spectra and photometry for SN 2014J obtained 57, 81, 108, and 137 days after the explosion using CanariCam on the Gran Telescopio Canarias. These mid-IR spectra and their evolution can be understood within the framework of the delayed detonation model and the production of $\sim$0.6 M$_{\odot}$ of $^{56}$Ni, a value also consistent with the observed brightness, the brightness decline relation, and the $\gamma$-ray fluxes. The [Co III] line at 11.888 $\mu$m, which must be emitted predominantly in regions where the density is below the critical value for collisional de-excitation, is particularly useful for evaluating the time evolution of the photosphere and measuring the amount of $^{56}$Ni and, thus, the mass of the ejecta. Late-time line profiles of SN 2014J are rather symmetric and not shifted in the rest frame. We see Argon emission, which provides a unique probe of mixing in the transition layer between incomplete burning and nuclear statistical equilibrium. In the early spectra we may see [Fe III] emission and, in all spectra, [Ni IV] emission, both of which are observed to be substantially stronger than indicated by our models. If the latter identification is correct, then we are likely observing stable Ni, which might imply central mixing. In addition, electron capture, also required for stable Ni, requires densities larger than $\sim 1 \times 10^9$ g cm$^{-3}$, which are expected to be present only in white dwarfs close to the Chandrasekhar limit. This study demonstrates that mid-IR studies of Type Ia supernovae are feasible from the ground and provide unique information, but it also indicates the need for better atomic data.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present mid-infrared (MIR) imaging and spectroscopic data of the Seyfert 2 galaxy Mrk 1066 obtained with CanariCam (CC) on the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC). The galaxy was observed in imaging mode with an angular resolution of 0.24 arcsec (54 pc) in the Si-2 filter (8.7 micron). The image reveals a series of star-forming knots within the central ~400 pc, after subtracting the dominant active galactic nucleus (AGN) component. We also subtracted this AGN unresolved component from the 8-13 micron spectra of the knots and the nucleus, and measured equivalent widths (EWs) of the 11.3 micron Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) feature which are typical of pure starburst galaxies. This EW is larger in the nucleus than in the knots, confirming that, at least in the case of Mrk 1066, the AGN dilutes, rather than destroys, the molecules responsible for the 11.3 micron PAH emission. By comparing the nuclear GTC/CC spectrum with the Spitzer/IRS spectrum of the galaxy, we find that the AGN component that dominates the continuum emission at wavelengths below 15 micron on scales of ~60 pc (90-100%) decreases to 35-50% when the emission of the central ~830 pc is considered. On the other hand, the AGN contribution dominates the 15-25 micron emission (75%) on the scales probed by Spitzer/IRS. We find a good match between the MIR morphology of Mrk 1066 and the extended Pab, Brg and [O III] emission. This coincidence implies that the 8.7 micron emission is probing star formation, dust in the narrow-line region, and the oval structure previously detected in the near-infrared. On the other hand, the Chandra soft X-ray morphology does not match any of the previous, contrary to what it is generally assumed for Seyfert galaxies.
    09/2014; 445(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Gemini's Fast Turnaround program is intended to greatly decrease the time from having an idea to acquiring the supporting data. The scheme will offer monthly proposal submission opportunities, and proposals will be reviewed by the principal investigators or co-investigators of other proposals submitted during the same round. Here, we set out the design of the system and outline the plan for its implementation, leading to the launch of a pilot program at Gemini North in January 2015.
    08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present high-angular (~0.4") resolution mid-infrared (MIR) polarimetric observations in the 8.7 ${\mu}$m and 11.6 ${\mu}$m filters of Cygnus A using CanariCam on the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS. A highly polarized nucleus is observed with a degree of polarization of 11${\pm}$3% and 12${\pm}$3% and position angle of polarization of 27${\pm}$8 degrees and 35${\pm}$8 degrees in a 0.38" (~380 pc) aperture for each filter. The observed rising of the polarized flux density with increasing wavelength is consistent with synchrotron radiation from the pc-scale jet close to the core of Cygnus A. Based on our polarization model, the synchrotron emission from the pc-scale jet is estimated to be 14% and 17% of the total flux density in the 8.7 ${\mu}$m and 11.6 ${\mu}$m filters, respectively. A blackbody component with a characteristic temperature of 220 K accounts for >75% of the observed MIR total flux density. The blackbody emission arises from a combination of (1) dust emission in the torus; and (2) diffuse dust emission around the nuclear region, but the contributions of the two components cannot be well constrained in these observations.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2014; 793(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present Gran Telescopio CANARIAS CanariCam 8.7$\mu$m imaging and 7.5-13$\mu$m spectroscopy of six local systems known to host an active galactic nucleus (AGN) and have nuclear star formation. Our main goal is to investigate whether the molecules responsible for the 11.3$\mu$m polyclyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) feature are destroyed in the close vicinity of an AGN. We detect 11.3$\mu$m PAH feature emission in the nuclear regions of the galaxies as well as extended PAH emission over a few hundred parsecs. The equivalent width (EW) of the feature shows a minimum at the nucleus but increases with increasing radial distances, reaching typical star-forming values a few hundred parsecs away from the nucleus. The reduced nuclear EW are interpreted as due to increased dilution from the AGN continuum rather than destruction of the PAH molecules. We conclude that at least those molecules responsible for the 11.3$\mu$m PAH feature survive in the nuclear environments as close as 10pc from the AGN and for Seyfert-like AGN luminosities. We propose that material in the dusty tori, nuclear gas disks, and/or host galaxies of AGN is likely to provide the column densities necessary to protect the PAH molecules from the AGN radiation field.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 07/2014; 443(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report near-infrared K', L', and M' band imaging observations of the nearby merging galaxy NGC 6240 with the Infrared Camera and Spectrograph on the Subaru telescope. The observations were performed with the assistance of the Subaru Adaptive Optics System, and the achieved spatial resolutions were around 0.10--0.20$^{\prime\prime}$. We also obtained new mid-infrared imaging in the Si-2 filter band (8.7$\mu$m) and N-band (7.5--13$\mu$m) spectroscopy of this galaxy with the CanariCam on the Gran Telescopio Canarias with a spatial resolution of 0.4--0.5$^{\prime\prime}$. In the K' band image the two nuclei of the galaxy each show a double-peak suggesting the complex geometry of the source, while the L', M', and Si-2 band images show single compact structures in each of the two nuclei. Assuming that the center core observed at wavelengths longer than 3.8$\mu$m is associated with dust heated by the buried AGN, we re-evaluated the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of the southern nucleus from 2 to 30$\mu$m with the additional literature values, and performed the SED+spectroscopy fitting using the clumpy torus models of Nenkova et al. (2008) and a Bayesian fitting approach. The model fit suggests that the high covering factor torus emission in the southern nucleus is also obscured by foreground dust in the host galaxy. The estimated AGN bolometric luminosity of the southern nucleus, $L_{\rm bol}({\rm AGN})\sim1\times10^{45}$ [erg$\cdot$s$^{-1}$], accounts for approximately 40% of the whole luminosity of the system.
    06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present high angular resolution ($\sim$0.5$^\prime$$^\prime$) MIR spectra of the powerful radio galaxy, Cygnus A, obtained with the Subaru telescope. The overall shape of the spectra agree with previous high angular resolution MIR observations, as well as previous Spitzer spectra. Our spectra, both on and off nucleus, show a deep silicate absorption feature. The absorption feature can be modeled with a blackbody obscured by cold dust or a clumpy torus. The deep silicate feature is best fit by a simple model of a screened blackbody, suggesting foreground absorption plays a significant, if not dominant role, in shaping the spectrum of Cygnus A. This foreground absorption prevents a clear view of the central engine and surrounding torus, making it difficult to quantify the extent the torus attributes to the obscuration of the central engine, but does not eliminate the need for a torus in Cygnus A.
    04/2014; 788(1).
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    ABSTRACT: We present nuclear spectral energy distributions (SEDs) from 1 to 18 micron of a small sample of nearby, nearly face-on and undisturbed Seyfert galaxies without prominent nuclear dust lanes. These nuclear SEDs probe the central ~35 pc of the galaxies, on average, and include photometric and spectroscopic infrared (IR) data. We use these SEDs, the clumpy torus models of Nenkova et al. and a Bayesian approach to study the sensitivity of different IR wavelengths to the torus parameters. We find that high angular resolution 8-13 micron spectroscopy alone reliably constrains the number of clumps and their optical depth (N0 and tau_V). On the other hand, we need a combination of mid- and near-IR subarcsecond resolution photometry to constrain torus width and inclination, as well as the radial distribution of the clouds (sigma, i and q). For flat radial profiles (q=0,1), it is possible to constrain the extent of the mid-IR-emitting dust within the torus (Y) when N-band spectroscopy is available, in addition to near-IR photometry. Finally, by fitting different combinations of average and individual Seyfert 1 and Seyfert 2 data, we find that, in general, for undisturbed, nearly face-on Seyferts without prominent nuclear dust lanes, the minimum combination of data necessary to reliably constrain all the torus parameters is J+K+M-band photometry + N-band spectroscopy.
    02/2014; 439(4).
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    ABSTRACT: Green Bean galaxies (GBs, Schirmer et al. 2013) are extremely rare type-2 AGN. Only 17 were found in the 14,500 square degrees SDSS-DR9, with redshifts in the range 0.19 < z < 0.34. They feature ultra-luminous and large (up to 100 kpc) narrow-line regions (NLRs) with typical [OIII] luminosities of several 1e43 erg/s. Comparing [OIII] and 22micron WISE luminosities with those of other type-2 quasars, we found the GB [OIII] luminosities to be 5-50 times higher than expected from the control sample. This implies that the central supermassive black hole (SMBH) engines in GBs currently undergo a substantial decline, while the NLR is still being ionized by the escaping X-ray radiation. These ionization echoes provide a unique window into what could be the final shut-down process of quasars. In our project we combine high-resolution narrow-band imaging with ACS/HST, IFU spectroscopy with GMOS/Gemini, and X-ray data with Chandra to study the ionization echoes further. Using the spatially resolved NLRs and the finite speed of light, we can reconstruct individual AGN X-ray light curves over a baseline of up to 100,000 years. This is the same time-scale as predicted for the shut-down by accretion models, and has not been probed previously. Combining the AGN's long-term variability with the physical properties of the luminous NLR then allows us to study the formation of the latter, together with AGN feedback and the impact on star formation in these exotic galaxies.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present mid-infrared (MIR) 8-13micron spectroscopy of the nuclear regions of the interacting galaxy Arp299 (IC694+NGC3690) obtained with CanariCam (CC) on the 10.4m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC). The high angular resolution (~0.3-0.6arcsec) of the data allows us to probe nuclear physical scales between 60 and 120pc, which is a factor of 10 improvement over previous MIR spectroscopic observations of this system. The GTC/CC spectroscopy displays evidence of deeply embedded Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) activity in both nuclei. The GTC/CC nuclear spectrum of NGC3690/Arp299-B1 can be explained as emission from AGN-heated dust in a clumpy torus with both a high covering factor and high extinction along the line of sight. The estimated bolometric luminosity of the AGN in NGC3690 is 3.2(+/-0.6)x10^44 erg/s. The nuclear GTC/CC spectrum of IC694/Arp299-A shows 11.3micron polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission stemming from a deeply embedded (A_V~24mag) region of less than 120pc in size. There is also a continuum-emitting dust component. If associated with th putative AGN in IC694, we estimate that it would be approximately 5 times less luminous than the AGN in NGC3690. The presence of dual AGN activity makes Arp299 a good example to study such phenomenon in the early coalescence phase of interacting galaxies.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2013; 779(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent theoretical and observational works indicate the presence of a correlation between the star formation rate (SFR) and the active galactic nuclei (AGN) luminosity (and, therefore, the black hole accretion rate) of Seyfert galaxies. This suggests a physical connection between the gas forming stars on kpc scales and the gas on sub-pc scales that is feeding the black hole. We compiled the largest sample of Seyfert galaxies to date with high angular resolution (0.4-0.8 arcsec) mid-infrared (8-13 micron) spectroscopy. The sample includes 29 Seyfert galaxies drawn from the AGN Revised Shapley-Ames catalogue. At a median distance of 33 Mpc, our data allow us to probe nuclear regions on scales of 65 pc (median value). We found no general evidence of suppression of the 11.3 micron polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission in the vicinity of these AGN, and used this feature as a proxy for the SFR. We detected the 11.3 micron PAH feature in the nuclear spectra of 45% of our sample. The derived nuclear SFRs are, on average, five times lower than those measured in circumnuclear regions of 600 pc in size (median value). However, the projected nuclear SFR densities are a factor of 20 higher than those measured on circumnuclear scales. This indicates that the SF activity per unit area in the central 65 pc of Seyfert galaxies is much higher than at larger distances from their nuclei. We studied the connection between the nuclear SFR and the black hole accretion rate and showed that numerical simulations reproduce fairly well our observed relation.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2013; 780(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use recent high-resolution infrared (IR; 1 - 20 micron) photometry to examine the origin of the IR emission in low-luminosity active galactic nuclei (LLAGN). The data are compared with published model fits that describe the spectral energy distribution of LLAGN in terms of an advection-dominated accretion flow (ADAF), truncated thin accretion disk, and jet. The truncated disk in these models is usually not luminous enough to explain the observed IR emission, and in all cases its spectral shape is much narrower than the broad IR peaks in the data. Synchrotron radiation from the jet appears to be important in very radio-loud nuclei, but the detection of strong silicate emission features in many objects indicates that dust must also contribute. We investigate this point by fitting the IR SED of NGC 3998 using dusty torus and optically thin (tau_MIR ~ 1) dust shell models. While more detailed modeling is necessary, these initial results suggest that dust may account for the nuclear mid-IR emission of many LLAGN.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2013; 777(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mid-infrared camera and spectrograph CanariCam is one of the first light instruments to be operative at GTC. To exploit the CanariCam guaranteed observing time, the PIRATAS team was formed. The PIRATAS team has 100 hours of guarantee time to do imaging and spectroscopy of active galactic nuclei (AGN). We have developed the pipeline RedCan to quickly analyze upcoming large amount of data. The main goal is to produce a software able of taking a list of observations and reduce them without the minimum number of inputs.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: An optically and geometrically thick torus obscures the central engine of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) from some lines of sight. From a magnetohydrodynamical framework, the torus can be considered to be a particular region of clouds surrounding the central engine where the clouds are dusty and optically thick. In this framework, the magnetic field plays an important role in the creation, morphology and evolution of the torus. If the dust grains within the clouds are assumed to be aligned by paramagnetic alignment, then the ratio of the intrinsic polarisation and visual extinction, P(%)/Av, is a function of the magnetic field strength. To estimate the visual extinction through the torus and constrain the polarisation mechanisms in the nucleus of AGN, we developed a polarisation model to fit both the total and polarised flux in a 1.2" (~263pc) aperture of the type 2 AGN, IC5063. The polarisation model is consistent with the nuclear polarisation observed at K being produced by dichroic absorption from aligned dust grains with a visual extinction through the torus of 48$\pm$2 mag. We estimated the intrinsic polarisation arising from dichroic absorption to be P$_{K}^{dic}$=12.5$\pm$2.7%. We consider the physical conditions and environment of the gas and dust for the torus of IC5063. Then, through paramagnetic alignment, we estimate a magnetic field strength in the range of 12-128mG in the NIR emitting regions of the torus of IC5063. Alternatively, we estimate the magnetic field strength in the plane of the sky using the Chandrasekhar-Fermi method. The minimum magnetic field strength in the plane of the sky is estimated to be 13 and 41 mG depending of the conditions within the torus of IC5063. These techniques afford the chance to make a survey of AGN, to investigate the effects of magnetic field strength on the torus, accretion, and interaction to the host galaxy.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2013; 431(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    M. Schirmer, R. Diaz, K. Holhjem, N. A. Levenson, C. Winge
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of Seyfert-2 galaxies in SDSS-DR8 with galaxy-wide, ultraluminous narrow-line regions (NLRs) at redshifts z = 0.2-0.6. With a space density of 4.4 Gpc–3 at z ~ 0.3, these "green beans" (GBs) are amongst the rarest objects in the universe. We are witnessing an exceptional and/or short-lived phenomenon in the life cycle of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The main focus of this paper is on a detailed analysis of the GB prototype galaxy J2240–0927 (z = 0.326). Its NLR extends over 26 × 44 kpc and is surrounded by an extended NLR. With a total [O III] λ5008 luminosity of (5.7 ± 0.9) × 1043 erg s–1, this is one of the most luminous NLRs known around any type-2 galaxy. Using VLT/XSHOOTER, we show that the NLR is powered by an AGN, and we derive resolved extinction, density, and ionization maps. Gas kinematics is disturbed on a global scale, and high-velocity outflows are absent or faint. This NLR is unlike any other NLR or extended emission line region known. Spectroscopy with Gemini/GMOS reveals extended, high-luminosity [O III] emission also in other GBs. WISE 24 μm luminosities are 5-50 times lower than predicted by the [O III] fluxes, suggesting that the NLRs reflect earlier, very active quasar states that have strongly subsided in less than a galaxy's light-crossing time. These light echoes, or ionization echoes, are about 100 times more luminous than any other such echo known to date. X-ray data are needed for photoionization modeling and to verify the light echoes.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2013; 763(1):60. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the proposed structures in active galactic nuclei (AGN) is a torus of dust and gas surrounding the central engine. The torus absorbs the energy of the central engine and re-emits in the mid infrared (MIR) band of the spectrum. Therefore, MIR observations allow the probing of the structure and geometry of the torus. We present high angular resolution MIR imaging and spectroscopy to probe the torus of radio loud AGN. Observations of several, nearby, radio loud AGN (RL AGN) taken from the Gemini, Subaru, and GTC telescopes are used to compare and contrast the MIR properties of the subclasses of RL AGN. High angular resolution imaging is used to probe the nucleus of the AGN, and detect any resolved, extended structure. High angular resolution spectroscopy is used to probe emission and absorption features and allows for modeling of the torus with the CLUMPY model. For the AGN Cygnus A, this work found differences between previous lower angular resolution observations and the high angular resolution work presented here . Differences in modeling the spectrum and torus were also found for Cyg A, which served as the proof of concept object for this work. This work gives insight into where RL AGN fall in the unified scheme of AGN.
    01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: An optically and geometrically thick torus obscures the central engine of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) from some lines of sight. From a magnetohydrodynamical framework, the torus can be considered to be a particular region of clouds surrounding the central engine where the clouds are dusty and optically thick. In this framework, the magnetic field plays an important role in the creation, morphology and evolution of the torus. If the dust grains within the clouds are assumed to be aligned by paramagnetic alignment, then the ratio of the intrinsic polarisation and visual extinction, P(%)/Av, is a function of the magnetic field strength. To estimate the visual extinction through the torus and constrain the polarisation mechanisms in the nucleus of AGN, we developed a polarisation model to fit both the total and polarised flux in a 1.2" (˜ 263 pc) aperture of the type 2 AGN, IC5063. We consider the physical conditions and environment of the gas and dust for the torus of IC5063. Then, through paramagnetic alignment, we estimate a magnetic field strength in the range of 12 - 128 mG in the NIR emitting regions of the torus of IC5063. Alternatively, we estimate the magnetic field strength in the plane of the sky using the Chandrasekhar-Fermi method. The minimum magnetic field strength in the plane of the sky is estimated to be 13 and 41 mG depending of the conditions within the torus of IC5063. These techniques afford the chance to make a survey of AGN, to investigate the effects of magnetic field strength on the torus, accretion, and interaction to the host galaxy. We present Si2 [8.7 um] and Si5 [11.6 um] imaging polarimetry of Cygnus A using CanariCam on the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC). Preliminary polarimetric results show a highly polarized nucleus with 11±3% and 12±3% in a 0.5" (˜500pc) aperture in Si2 and Si5, respectively. The PA of polarization remains constant, 32±8 deg, in both filters. In order to disentangle the origin of the polarized component in the nucleus of Cygnus A, further modeling using several polarizing mechanisms e.g. synchrotron, dichroic absorption/emission and/or scattering will be performed.
    12/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We present new far-infrared (70-500 μm) Herschel Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) imaging observations as well as new mid-IR Gemini/Thermal-Region Camera Spectrograph imaging (8.7 and 18.3 μm) and spectroscopy of the inner Lindblad resonance (ILR) region (R < 2.5 kpc) of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365. We complemented these observations with archival Spitzer imaging and spectral mapping observations. The ILR region of NGC 1365 contains a Seyfert 1.5 nucleus and a ring of star formation with an approximate diameter of 2 kpc. The strong star formation activity in the ring is resolved by the Herschel/PACS imaging data, as well as by the Spitzer 24 μm continuum emission, [Ne II] 12.81 μm line emission, and 6.2 and 11.3 μm PAH emission. The active galactic nucleus (AGN) is the brightest source in the central regions up to λ ˜ 24 μm, but it becomes increasingly fainter in the far-infrared when compared to the emission originating in the infrared clusters (or groups of them) located in the ring. We modelled the AGN unresolved infrared emission with the clumpy torus models and estimated that the AGN contributes only to a small fraction (˜5 per cent) of the infrared emission produced in the inner ˜5 kpc. We fitted the non-AGN 24-500 μm spectral energy distribution of the ILR region and found that the dust temperatures and mass are similar to those of other nuclear and circumnuclear starburst regions. Finally we showed that within the ILR region of NGC 1365, most of the ongoing star formation activity is taking place in dusty regions as probed by the 24 μm emission. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.Augusto González Linares Senior Research Fellow.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2012; 425:311-324. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new far-infrared (70-500micron) Herschel PACS and SPIRE imaging observations as well as new mid-IR Gemini/T-ReCS imaging (8.7 and 18.3micron) and spectroscopy of the inner Lindblad resonance (ILR) region (R<2.5kpc) of the spiral galaxy NGC1365. We complemented these observations with archival Spitzer imaging and spectral mapping observations. The ILR region of NGC1365 contains a Seyfert 1.5 nucleus and a ring of star formation with an approximate diameter of 2kpc. The strong star formation activity in the ring is resolved by the Herschel/PACS imaging data, as well as by the Spitzer 24micron continuum emission, [NeII]12.81micron line emission, and 6.2 and 11.3micron PAH emission. The AGN is the brightest source in the central regions up to lambda~24micron, but it becomes increasingly fainter in the far-infrared when compared to the emission originating in the infrared clusters (or groups of them) located in the ring. We modeled the AGN unresolved infrared emission with the CLUMPY torus models and estimated that the AGN contributes only to a small fraction (~5%) of the infrared emission produced in the inner ~5kpc. We fitted the non-AGN 24-500micron spectral energy distribution of the ILR region and found that the dust temperatures and mass are similar to those of other nuclear and circumnuclear starburst regions. Finally we showed that within the ILR region of NGC1365 most of the on-going star formation activity is taking place in dusty regions as probed by the 24micron emission.
    06/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We present high-resolution mid-infrared (MIR) imaging, nuclear spectral energy distributions (SEDs) and archival Spitzer spectra for 22 low-luminosity active galactic nuclei (LLAGN; Lbol \lesssim 10^42 erg/sec). Infrared (IR) observations may advance our understanding of the accretion flows in LLAGN, the fate of the obscuring torus at low accretion rates, and, perhaps, the star formation histories of these objects. However, while comprehensively studied in higher-luminosity Seyferts and quasars, the nuclear IR properties of LLAGN have not yet been well-determined. We separate the present LLAGN sample into three categories depending on their Eddington ratio and radio emission, finding different IR characteristics for each class. (I) At the low-luminosity, low-Eddington ratio (log Lbol/LEdd < -4.6) end of the sample, we identify "host-dominated" galaxies with strong polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon bands that may indicate active (circum-)nuclear star formation. (II) Some very radio-loud objects are also present at these low Eddington ratios. The IR emission in these nuclei is dominated by synchrotron radiation, and some are likely to be unobscured type 2 AGN that genuinely lack a broad line region. (III) At higher Eddington ratios, strong, compact nuclear sources are visible in the MIR images. The nuclear SEDs of these galaxies are diverse; some resemble typical Seyfert nuclei, while others lack a well-defined MIR "dust bump". Strong silicate emission is present in many of these objects. We speculate that this, together with high ratios of silicate strength to hydrogen column density, could suggest optically thin dust and low dust-to-gas ratios, in accordance with model predictions that LLAGN do not host a Seyfert-like obscuring torus.
    The Astronomical Journal 04/2012; 144(1). · 4.97 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
426.36 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012
    • Gemini Observatory
      Hilo, Hawaii, United States
  • 2002–2010
    • University of Kentucky
      • Department of Physics & Astronomy
      Lexington, KY, United States
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 1997–2009
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Astronomy
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 2000–2008
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 2006
    • Cornell University
      • Department of Astronomy
      Ithaca, New York, United States