Volume 577, May 2015
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Published online||05 May 2015|
Modeling optical and UV polarization of AGNs
III. From uniform-density to clumpy regions
Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences,
Boční II 1401,
2 Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, UMR 7550, 11 rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
3 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California at Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA
Received: 8 January 2015
Accepted: 17 March 2015
Context. A growing body of evidence suggests that some, if not all, scattering regions of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are clumpy. The inner AGN components cannot be spatially resolved with current instruments and must be studied by numerical simulations of observed spectroscopy and polarization data.
Aims. We run radiative transfer models in the optical/UV for a variety of AGN reprocessing regions with different distributions of clumpy scattering media. We obtain geometry-sensitive polarization spectra and images to improve our previous AGN models and their comparison with the observations.
Methods. We use the latest public version 1.2 of the Monte Carlo code stokes presented in the first two papers of this series to model AGN reprocessing regions of increasing morphological complexity. We replace previously uniform-density media with up to thousands of constant-density clumps. We couple a continuum source to fragmented equatorial scattering regions, polar outflows, and toroidal obscuring dust regions and investigate a wide range of geometries. We also consider different levels of fragmentation in each scattering region to evaluate the importance of fragmentation for the net polarization of the AGN.
Results. In comparison with uniform-density models, equatorial distributions of gas and dust clouds result in grayer spectra and show a decrease in the net polarization percentage at all lines of sight. The resulting polarization position angle depends on the morphology of the clumpy structure, with extended tori favoring parallel polarization while compact tori produce orthogonal polarization position angles. In the case of polar scattering regions, fragmentation increases the net polarization unless the cloud filling factor is small. A complete AGN model constructed from the individual, fragmented regions can produce low polarization percentages (<2%), with a parallel polarization angle for observer inclinations up to 70° for a torus half opening angle of 60°. For type-2 viewing angles the polarization switches to perpendicular and rises to ~50%.
Conclusions. Our modeling shows that the introduction of fragmented dusty tori significantly alters the resulting net polarization of an AGN. Comparison of our models to polarization observations of large AGN samples greatly favors geometrically compact clumpy tori over extended ones.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: Seyfert / polarization / radiative transfer / scattering
© ESO, 2015
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