The dusty torus is the key component in the Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) Unification Scheme that explains the spectroscopic differences between Seyfert galaxies of types 1 and 2. The torus dust is heated by the nuclear source and emits the absorbed energy in the infrared (IR); but because of light travel times, the torus IR emission responds to variations of the nuclear ultraviolet/optical continuum with a delay that corresponds to the size of the emitting region. The results from a mid-infrared (MIR) monitoring campaign using the Spitzer Space Telescope and optical ground-based telescopes (B and V band imaging), which spanned over 2 years and covered a sample of 12 Seyfert galaxies, are presented. The aim was to constrain the distances from the nucleus to the regions in the torus emitting at wavelengths of 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm. MIR light curves showing the variability characteristics of these AGN are presented and the effects of photometric uncertainties on the time-series analysis of the light curves are discussed. Significant variability was observed in the IR light curves of 10 of 12 objects, with relative amplitudes ranging from ∼10% to ∼100% from their mean flux. The “reverberation lags” between the 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm IR bands were determined for the entire sample and between the optical and MIR bands for NGC6418. In NGC6418, the 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm fluxes lagged behind those of the optical continuum by 47.5 (+2.0,-1.9) days and 62.5 (+2.5,−2.9) days, respectively. This is consistent with the inferred lower limit to the sublimation radius for pure graphite grains at T=1800 K but smaller by a factor of 2 than the lower limit for dust grains with a “standard” interstellar medium (ISM) composition. There is evidence that the lags increased following approximately by a factor of 2 increase in luminosity, consistent with an increase in the sublimation radius.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Active galactic nuclei; Infrared imaging
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)
Vazquez, Billy, "Constraining the Size of the Dusty Torus in Active Galactic Nuclei: An Optical/Infrared Reverberation Lag Study" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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