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Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Jahrgang 2008



Clumpy Dust Tori in Active Galactic Nuclei


Sebastian Florian Hönig




Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are amongst the most luminous objects in the universe. The source of their activity is accretion onto a supermassive black hole in the center of the galactic nucleus. The various phenomena observed in AGN are explained in a common unification scheme. The cornerstone of this unification scheme of AGN is the presence of an optically and geometrically thick dust torus which surrounds the central accretion disk and broad-line region (BLR). This parsec-scaled torus is responsible for the apparent difference between type 1 and type 2 AGN. If the line-of-sight intersects with the torus, the accretion disk and BLR are not visible and the AGN is classified as a type 2 object. On the other hand, if the torus is seen nearly face-on, the accretion disk and BLR are directly exposed to the observer, so that the galaxy appears as a type 1 AGN.
Near- (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) interferometry has resolved, for the first time, the dust torus around the nearby prototypical Seyfert 2 AGN NGC 1068. These observations provided an insight into the structure of the torus: Apparently, the dust is not smoothly distributed in the torus but arranged in clumps -- contrary to what has been commonly used in models. more...

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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Veröffentlicht: 2008