S. F. Hönig, M. Kishimoto, R. Antonucci, A. Marconi, M. A. Prieto, K. Tristram, G. Weigelt
2012 Astrophysical Journal  
Advancements in infrared IR open up the possibility to spatially resolve AGN on the parsec-scale level and study the circumnuclear dust distribution, commonly referred to as the "dust torus", that is held responsible for the type 1/type 2 dichotomy of AGN. We used the mid-IR beam combiner MIDI together with the 8m telescopes at the VLTI to observe the nucleus of the Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 424, achieving an almost complete coverage of the uv-plane accessible by the available telescope
more » ... s. We detect extended mid-IR emission with a relatively baseline- and model-independent mid-IR half-light radius of (2.0 ± 0.2) pc × (1.5 ± 0.3) pc (averaged over the 8-13 μm wavelength range). The extended mid-IR source shows an increasing size with wavelength. The orientation of the major axis in position angle -27deg is closely aligned with the system axis as set by optical polarization observations. Torus models typically favor extension along the mid-plane at mid-IR wavelengths instead. Therefore, we conclude that the majority of the pc-scale mid-IR emission (> 60 region of the AGN, a scenario consistent with the near- to far-IR SED. We suggest that a radiatively-driven dusty wind, possibly launched in a puffed-up region of the inner hot part of the torus, is responsible for the polar dust. In this picture, the torus dominates the near-IR emission up to about 5 μm, while the polar dust is the main contributor to the mid-IR flux. Our results of NGC 424 are consistent with recent observations of the AGN in the Circinus galaxy and resemble large-scale characteristics of other objects. If our results reflect a general property of the AGN population, the current paradigm for interpreting and modeling the IR emission of AGN have to be revised. (abridged)
doi:10.1088/0004-637x/755/2/149 fatcat:cwqffpkmd5ccnfymzolfeg2yqy