Institute of Astronomy

Tori, disks, and winds — the AGN dust emission at high angular resolution

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Sebastian Hoenig, University of Southampton2 November 2017Institute of Astronomy Colloquia


Mass accretion onto supermassive black holes occurs on scales beyond the diffraction limit of any single optical/infrared (IR) telescope. Thanks to the resolution power of the VLT Interferometer, we are now tapping into the outer accretion structure of active galactic nuclei (AGN) — commonly referred to as the “dusty torus”. New and surprising results challenge the current paradigm: the bulk of the mid-IR emission is not originating from the torus, but extends far into the outflow region of the AGN, ranging from sub-parsec scales to 100s pc. I will give an overview of the state of high-resolution IR observations of AGN and discuss the new emerging disk+wind paradigm in the context of AGN unification and the physical processes that regulate accretion and feedback.