Exploring the inner parsecs of active galactic nuclei using near-infrared high resolution polarimetric simulations with MontAGN
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité,
5 place Jules Janssen,
2 LUTH, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
3 Univ. Grenoble Alpes, IRAM, 38000 Grenoble, France
4 LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, École normale supérieure, 75005 Paris, France
5 Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, UMR 7550, 11 rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Accepted: 22 November 2017
Aims. In this paper we aim to constrain the properties of dust structures in the central first parsecs of active galactic nuclei (AGN). Our goal is to study the required optical depth and composition of different dusty and ionised structures.
Methods. We developed a radiative transfer code called Monte Carlo for Active Galactic Nuclei (MontAGN), which is optimised for polarimetric observations in the infrared. With both this code and STOKES, designed to be relevant from the hard X-ray band to near-infrared wavelengths, we investigate the polarisation emerging from a characteristic model of the AGN environment. For this purpose, we compare predictions of our models with previous infrared observations of NGC 1068, and try to reproduce several key polarisation patterns revealed by polarisation mapping.
Results. We constrain the required dust structures and their densities. More precisely, we find that the electron density inside the ionisation cone is about 2.0 × 109 m−3. With structures constituted of spherical grains of constant density, we also highlight that the torus should be thicker than 20 in term of K-band optical depth to block direct light from the centre. It should also have a stratification in density: a less dense outer rim with an optical depth at 2.2 μm typically between 0.8 and 4 for observing the double scattering effect previously proposed.
Conclusions. We bring constraints on the dust structures in the inner parsecs of an AGN model supposed to describe NGC 1068. When compared to observations, this leads to an optical depth of at least 20 in the Ks band for the torus of NGC 1068, corresponding to τV ≈ 170, which is within the range of current estimation based on observations. In the future, we will improve our study by including non-uniform dust structures and aligned elongated grains to constrain other possible interpretations of the observations.
Key words: galaxies: Seyfert / techniques: polarimetric / techniques: high angular resolution / methods: numerical / radiative transfer
© ESO 2018