Volume 578, June 2015
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||04 June 2015|
Monitoring the temperature and reverberation delay of the circumnuclear hot dust in NGC 4151
1 Max Planck Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Department of Astronomy, The Ohio State University, 140 W 18th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
3 Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics, The Ohio State University, 191 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
4 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
5 Carnegie Observatories, 813 Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
Received: 24 January 2015
Accepted: 23 March 2015
A hot, dusty torus located around the outer edge of the broad-line region of AGNs is a fundamental ingredient in unified AGN models. While the existence of circumnuclear dust around AGNs at pc-scale radii is now widely accepted, questions about the origin, evolution and long-term stability of these dust tori remain unsettled. We used reverberation mapping of the hot circumnuclear dust in the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 4151, to monitor its temperature and reverberation lag as a function of the varying accretion disk brightness. We carried out multiband, multiepoch photometric observations of the nucleus of NGC 4151 in the z,Y,J,H, and K bands for 29 epochs from 2010 January to 2014 June, supported by new near-infrared and optical spectroscopic observations, and archived WISE data. We see no signatures of dust destruction due to sublimation in our data, since they show no increase in the hot dust reverberation delay directly correlated with substantial accretion disk flux increases in the observed period. Instead, we find that the hot dust in NGC 4151 appears to merely heat up, and the hot dust temperature closely tracks the accretion disk luminosity variations. We find indications of a decreased reverberation delay within the observed period from τ = 42.5 ± 4.0 days in 2010 to τ = 29.6 ± 1.7 days in 2013-2014. Such a varying reverberation radius on longer timescales would explain the intrinsic scatter observed in the radius-luminosity relation of dust around AGNs. Our observations rule out that a second, larger dust component within a 100-light-day radius from the source contributes significantly to the observed near-infrared flux in this galaxy.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: nuclei / galaxies: Seyfert / galaxies: individual: NGC 4151 / infrared: galaxies
© ESO, 2015
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