Year of Publication

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Moshe Elitzur

Abstract

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are compact regions in the centers of some galaxies. They emit significantly in the whole range of the electromagnetic spectrum and show variability at different timescales. Observational evidence suggests the presence of a dusty torus obscuring the central radiation source of AGN. According to the Unified Model the observed general properties of AGN emission can be understood on the basis of orientation of this torus toward an observer. Two main types of AGN are distinguished: Type 1, with detected emission from the inner torus cavity viewed pole-on, and Type 2, viewed through the obscuring torus. There are numerous attempts in the past decade to model the emission from the torus, considering a homogeneous distribution of dust. However, important problems in explaining the observations still remain unsolved: it is hard to suppress the 10 m emission feature of silicate dust for a pole-on view and at the same time produce an absorption feature for an edge-on viewed torus; despite the huge optical depths inferred from X-ray observations of Type 2 sources, the observed absorption feature is shallow. Unlike observations, models of homogeneous tori with large optical depths always produce deep absorption feature. While it is realized that dust contained in clumps would resolve these issues, modeling of a clumpy medium poses a serious computational challenge. We are the first to incorporate clumps in our model of a dusty torus and to successfully explain the infrared emission from AGN. We model two types of clouds: directly illuminated by the AGN and diffusely heated by other clouds. We calculate the emission of the first type as angle-averaged emission from a dusty slab. The second type of clouds is modeled as dusty spheres embedded in the radiation field of the directly heated clouds. The radiative transfer problem for a dusty slab and externally heated sphere is solved exactly with our code DUSTY. The overall emission of the torus is found by integration over the spatial distribution of clouds. We find a very good agreement of our model results with observations. Comparison with them can constrain the physical conditions in the AGN dusty tori.

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