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The dust and molecular gas in the torus of NGC 1068

An Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) is a highly luminous region at the center of a galaxy, powered by the accretion into a supermassive black hole and emitting energy from radio waves to gamma rays, often outshining the host galaxy.

V. Gamez Rosas
19 December 2023
Thesis in Leiden Repository

In the context of the AGN unification paradigm, the concept of the dusty “torus” plays a crucial role to discern between Type-1 and Type-2 AGNs depending on whether it obscures the AGN from the observer’s line of sight. NGC 1068, a well-studied AGN across the electromagnetic spectrum, is a nearby barred galaxy (d=14.4 Mpc) considered the prototypical Type-2. Using MATISSE at the VLTI, we have obtained direct evidence of the dusty torus enshrouding the AGN in NGC 1068. The multi-band capabilities of the instrument in the infrared wavelengths and the high spatial resolution that the interferometric technique can achieve have enabled us to study in detail the characteristics of the obscuring dust and its spatial distribution. We further analyse ALMA observations of the molecular gas with a comparable angular resolution. The revealed kinematics suggest an ongoing merger event, potentially contributing to the observed asymmetries in the torus and the water-maser disk, offering new insights into the dynamic processes in AGNs.

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