Salt long-slit spectroscopy of luminous obscured quasars: An upper limit on the size of the narrow-line region?

Kevin N. Hainline, Ryan Hickox, Jenny E. Greene, Adam D. Myers, Nadia L. Zakamska

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64 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present spatially resolved long-slit spectroscopy from the Southern African Large Telescope to examine the spatial extent of the narrow-line regions (NLRs) of a sample of eight luminous obscured quasars at 0.10 < z < 0.43. Our results are consistent with an observed shallow slope in the relationship between NLR size and L [O III], which has been interpreted to indicate that NLR size is limited by the density and ionization state of the NLR gas rather than the availability of ionizing photons. We also explore how the NLR size scales with a more direct measure of instantaneous active galactic nucleus power using mid-IR photometry from the Wide Field Infrared Explorer, which probes warm to hot dust near the central black hole and so, unlike [O III], does not depend on the properties of the NLR. Using our results as well as samples from the literature, we obtain a power-law relationship between NLR size and L 8 μm that is significantly steeper than that observed for NLR size and L [O III]. We find that the size of the NLR goes approximately as , as expected from the simple scenario of constant-density clouds illuminated by a central ionizing source. We further see tentative evidence for a flattening of the relationship between NLR size and L 8 μm at the high-luminosity end, and propose that we are seeing a limiting NLR size of 10-20 kpc, beyond which the availability of gas to ionize becomes too low. We find that , consistent with a picture in which the L [O III] is dependent on the volume of the NLR. These results indicate that high-luminosity quasars have a strong effect in ionizing the available gas in a galaxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume774
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • quasars: emission lines

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