The dusty heart of nearby active galaxies
II. From clumpy torus models to physical properties of dust around AGN
University of California in Santa BarbaraDepartment of
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomies, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Accepted: 18 August 2010
With the possibilities of high spatial resolution imaging and spectroscopy as well as infrared (IR) interferometry, the dusty environments (= “dusty torus”) of active galactic nuclei (AGN) are now in reach of observations. Following our Paper I on ground-based mid-IR spectro-photometry, we present an upgrade to our radiative transfer model of three-dimensional clumpy dust tori. The upgrade with respect to earlier work concerns an improved handling of the diffuse radiation field in the torus, which is approximated by a statistical approach. The models are presented as tools to translate classical and interferometric observations into characteristic properties of the dust distribution. We compare model spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for different chemical and grain-size compositions of the dust and find that clouds with standard interstellar matter (ISM) dust and optical depth τV ~ 50 appear in overall agreement with observed IR SEDs. By studying parameter dependencies, it is shown that type 1 AGN SEDs, in particular the mid-IR spectral index, can be used to constrain the radial dust cloud distribution power law index a, while other parameters are more difficult to assess using SEDs only. Interferometry adds important additional information for modeling when it is interpreted concurrently with the SED. Although type 2 AGN can in principle be used to constrain model parameters as well, obscuration effects make the analysis more ambiguous. We propose a simple, interferometry-based method to distinguish between “compact” and “extended” radial dust distributions without detailed modeling of the data and introduce a way to easily determine individual or sample average model parameters using the observed optical depth in the silicate feature and the mid-IR spectral index.
Key words: galaxies: Seyfert / galaxies: nuclei / infrared: galaxies / X-rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2010