From thin to thick: The impact of X-ray irradiation on accretion disks in active galactic nuclei

Philip Chang, Eliot Quataert, Norman Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

We argue that the X-ray and UV flux illuminating the parsec-scale accretion disk around luminous active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is super-Eddington with respect to the local far-infrared dust opacity. The far-infrared opacity may be larger than in the interstellar medium of the Milky Way due to a combination of supersolar metallicity and the growth of dust grains in the dense accretion disk. Because of the irradiating flux, the outer accretion disk puffs up with a vertical thickness h ∼ R. This provides a mechanism for generating a geometrically thick obscuring region from an intrinsically thin disk. We find obscuring columns ∼1022-1023 cm-2, in reasonable agreement with observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-101
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume662
Issue number1 I
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 10 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Dust, extinction
  • Galaxies: Seyfert
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei

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