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Tori, discs, and winds: the first ten years of AGN interferometry

Tori, discs, and winds: the first ten years of AGN interferometry
Tori, discs, and winds: the first ten years of AGN interferometry
Infrared (IR) interferometry has made significant progress over the last 10 years to a level that active galactic nuclei (AGN) are now routine targets for long-baseline interferometers. Almost 50 different objects have been studied today in the near-IR and mid-IR. This allowed for detailed characterisation of the dusty environment of the actively growing black holes . It was possible to show directly that the dust must be arranged in clumps, as had been indirectly inferred from theory and unresolved observations. The dust composition seems to undergo significant evolution from galactic scales to the AGN environment, with the hottest dust close to the sublimation front being dominated by large graphite grains. While the overall distribution of the dusty mass is quite diverse from object to object, indications have been found that the dust distribution may depend on AGN luminosity, with more powerful AGN potentially showing more compact dust structures. Arguably the most exciting discovery was the fact that the bulk of the mid-IR emission in Seyfert galaxies emerges from the polar region of the AGN, which is difficult to reconcile with classical torus models. An alternative model is currently being debated that consists of a dusty disc plus a dusty wind driven by radiation pressure from the central source. This finding has major implications for our understanding of AGN unification and will become a focus of the upcoming generation of instruments at the VLTI. More recently, an application of interferometry to cosmology was proposed to measure precise geometric distances to AGN in the Hubble flow. Further exploration of this method may open up interferometry to a new scientific community.
0067-0057
95-112
Springer
Hönig, Sebastian F.
be0bb8bc-bdac-4442-8edc-f735834f3917
Boffin, H.
Hussain, G.
Berger, JP.
Schmidtobreick, L.
Hönig, Sebastian F.
be0bb8bc-bdac-4442-8edc-f735834f3917
Boffin, H.
Hussain, G.
Berger, JP.
Schmidtobreick, L.

Hönig, Sebastian F. (2016) Tori, discs, and winds: the first ten years of AGN interferometry. In, Boffin, H., Hussain, G., Berger, JP. and Schmidtobreick, L. (eds.) Astronomy at High Angular Resolution. (Astrophysics and Space Science Library, , (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-39739-9_6), 439) Cham. Springer, pp. 95-112. (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-39739-9_6).

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Abstract

Infrared (IR) interferometry has made significant progress over the last 10 years to a level that active galactic nuclei (AGN) are now routine targets for long-baseline interferometers. Almost 50 different objects have been studied today in the near-IR and mid-IR. This allowed for detailed characterisation of the dusty environment of the actively growing black holes . It was possible to show directly that the dust must be arranged in clumps, as had been indirectly inferred from theory and unresolved observations. The dust composition seems to undergo significant evolution from galactic scales to the AGN environment, with the hottest dust close to the sublimation front being dominated by large graphite grains. While the overall distribution of the dusty mass is quite diverse from object to object, indications have been found that the dust distribution may depend on AGN luminosity, with more powerful AGN potentially showing more compact dust structures. Arguably the most exciting discovery was the fact that the bulk of the mid-IR emission in Seyfert galaxies emerges from the polar region of the AGN, which is difficult to reconcile with classical torus models. An alternative model is currently being debated that consists of a dusty disc plus a dusty wind driven by radiation pressure from the central source. This finding has major implications for our understanding of AGN unification and will become a focus of the upcoming generation of instruments at the VLTI. More recently, an application of interferometry to cosmology was proposed to measure precise geometric distances to AGN in the Hubble flow. Further exploration of this method may open up interferometry to a new scientific community.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 25 August 2016
Additional Information: Chapter 6
Organisations: Astronomy Group

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Local EPrints ID: 408742
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/408742
ISSN: 0067-0057
PURE UUID: 0acf0b29-1739-4a88-8747-d10ef119057e

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Date deposited: 27 May 2017 04:03
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 19:58

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