A non-hydrodynamical model for acceleration of line-driven winds in active galactic nuclei
INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125
Firenze, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
2 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Accepted: 4 November 2009
Context. Radiation driven winds are the likely origin of AGN outflows, and are believed to be a fundamental component of the inner structure of AGNs. Several hydrodynamical models have been developed, showing that these winds can be effectively launched from AGN accretion disks.
Aims. Here we want to study the acceleration phase of line-driven winds in AGNs, in order to examine the physical conditions required for the existence of such winds for a wide variety of initial conditions.
Methods. We built a simple and fast non-hydrodynamic model QWIND, where we assume that a wind is launched from the accretion disk at supersonic velocities of a few 100 km s-1, and we concentrated on the subsequent supersonic phase, when the wind is accelerated to final velocities up to 104 km s-1.
Results. We show that, with a set of initial parameters in agreement with observations in AGNs, this model can produce a wind with terminal velocities on the order of 104 km s-1. There are three zones in the wind, only the middle one of which can launch a wind: in the inner zone the wind is too ionized and so experiences only the Compton radiation force, which is not effective in accelerating gas. This inner “failed wind” is important for shielding the next zone by lowering the ionization parameter there. In the middle zone the lower ionization of the gas leads to a much larger radiation force and the gas achieves escape velocity This middle zone is quite thin (about 100 gravitational radii). The outer, third zone is shielded from the UV radiation by the central wind zone, so does not achieve a high enough acceleration to reach escape velocity. We also describe a simple analytic approximation of our model, in which we neglect the effects of gravity during the acceleration phase. This analytic approach agrees with the results of the numerical code, and is a powerful way to check whether a radiation driven wind can be accelerated with a given set of initial parameters.
Conclusions. Our analytical analysis and the fast QWIND model agree with more complex hydrodynamical models, and allow exploration of the dependence of the wind properties for a wide set of initial parameters: black hole mass, Eddington ratio, initial density profile, X-ray to UV ratio.
Key words: galaxies: active / quasars: general / acceleration of particules
© ESO, 2010