Physics and Astronomy Publications


Investigating the structure of the windy torus in quasars

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society





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Thermalmid-infrared emission of quasars requires an obscuring structure that can be modelled as a magneto-hydrodynamic wind in which radiation pressure on dust shapes the outflow. We have taken the dusty-wind models presented by Keating and collaborators that generated quasar mid-infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs), and explore their properties (such as geometry, opening angle, and ionic column densities) as a function of Eddington ratio and X-ray weakness. In addition, we present new models with a range of magnetic field strengths and column densities of the dust-free shielding gas interior to the dusty wind. We find this family of models - with input parameters tuned to accurately match the observed mid-IR power in quasar SEDs - provides reasonable values of the Type 1 fraction of quasars and the column densities of warm absorber gas, though it does not explain a purely luminositydependent covering fraction for either. Furthermore, we provide predictions of the cumulative distribution of E(B - V) values of quasars from extinction by the wind and the shape of the wind as imaged in the mid-infrared. Within the framework of this model, we predict that the strength of the near-infrared bump from hot dust emission will be correlated primarily with L/LEdd rather than luminosity alone, with scatter induced by the distribution of magnetic field strengths. The empirical successes and shortcomings of these models warrant further investigations into the composition and behaviour of dust and the nature of magnetic fields in the vicinity of actively accreting supermassive black holes.

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