An X-ray view on infrared-emitting dust in active galactic nuclei

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Modelling and simulation
    • Cosmology and extragalactic astronomy
    • High energy astrophysics, astroparticle physics and cosmic rays
    • Infrared and optical astronomy
Active Galactic Nuclei X-ray emission Monte Carlo radiative transfer
Project description

We propose to probe the detailed structure of the dusty medium in active galactic nuclei (AGN) using reflected X-ray features. A unified view on the observed variety of AGN types is established by assuming an obscuring, dusty component around their central black hole. Recently, a new picture of dust structure is emerging, suggesting that dust in nearby AGN occurs as a complex multi-phase medium, extending in the polar direction and possibly associated to dusty outflows or failed winds. Using reflected X-ray features is an innovative way to trace the infrared (IR) emitting dusty component in AGN. The joint analysis of IR and X-ray wavelengths can break degeneracies, faced when dissecting dusty structures in IR alone. To this goal, we plan to develop the first Monte Carlo radiative transfer (MCRT) code that self-consistently operates from X-ray to IR wavelengths in arbitrary 3D geometries. We will probe the detailed structure of the dusty medium in Circinus Galaxy, one of the most nearby AGN and plan to extend this study to a larger pool of AGN in the local Universe. We are convinced that this novel approach could have quite some impact in AGN astrophysics.