Volume 365, Number 2, January 2001
|Page(s)||28 - 36|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||15 January 2001|
Dust in active nuclei
I. Evidence for "anomalous"properties
Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri L.go E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Firenze, L.go E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
3 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi "Roma Tre" Via della Vasca Navale 84, 00146 Roma, Italy
4 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Santiago, Chile
Corresponding author: R. Maiolino, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 28 September 2000
We present observational evidences that dust in the circumnuclear region of AGNs has different properties than in the Galactic diffuse interstellar medium. By comparing the reddening of optical and infrared broad lines and the X-ray absorbing column density we find that the ratio is nearly always lower than Galactic by a factor ranging from ∼3 up to ∼100. Other observational results indicate that the ratio is significantly lower than Galactic in various classes of AGNs including intermediate type 1.8-1.9 Seyferts, hard X-ray selected and radio selected quasars, broad absorption line QSOs and grism selected QSOs. The lack of prominent absorption features at 9.7 μm (silicates) and at 2175 Å (carbon dip) in the spectra of Seyfert 2s and of reddened Seyfert 1s, respectively, add further evidence for dust in the circumnuclear region of AGNs being different from Galactic. These observational results indicate that the dust composition in the circumnuclear region of AGNs could be dominated by large grains, which make the extinction curve flatter, featureless and are responsible for the reduction of the and ratios. Regardless of the physical origin of these phenomena, the reduced dust absorption with respect to what expected from the gaseous column density should warn about a mismatch between the optical and the X-ray classification of the active galactic nuclei in terms of their obscuration.
Key words: galaxies: Seyfert -galaxies: nuclei -galaxies: ISM - dust, extinction
© ESO, 2001
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