AGN Black hole mass estimates using polarization in broad emission Lines

18 Jan 2018  ·  Savić Đ. 1 and 2, Goosmann R. 2 and 3, Popović L. Č. 2 and 3, Marin F., Afanasiev V. L. ·

The innermost regions in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) were not being spatially resolved so far but spectropolarimetry can provide us insight about their hidden physics and the geometry. From spectropolarimetric observations in broad emission lines and assuming equatorial scattering as a dominant polarization mechanism, it is possible to estimate the mass of supermassive black holes (SMBHs)... We explore the possibilities and limits and to put constraints on the usage of the method for determining SMBH masses using polarization in broad emission lines by providing more in-depth theoretical modeling. Methods. We use the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code STOKES for exploring polarization of Type 1 AGNs. We model equatorial scattering using flared-disk geometry for a set of different SMBH masses assuming Thomson scattering. In addition to the Keplerian motion in the BLR, we also consider cases of additional radial inflows and vertical outflows. We model the profiles of polarization plane position angle, degree of polarization and total unpolarized line for different BLR geometries and different SMBH masses. Our modeling confirms that the method can be widely used for Type-1 AGNs when viewing inclinations are between 25 and 45 degrees. We show that the distance between the BLR and scattering region (SR) has a significant impact on the mass estimates and the best mass estimates are when the SR is situated at the distance 1.5-2.5 times larger than the outer BLR radius. Our models show that if Keplerian motion can be traced through the polarized line profile, then the direct estimation of the mass of the SMBH can be performed. When radial inflows or vertical outflows are present in the BLR, this method can be applied if velocities of the inflow/outflow are less than 500 km/s. We find that models for NGC4051, NGC4151, 3C273 and PG0844+349 are in good agreements with observations. read more

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Astrophysics of Galaxies