Nature of quasar disk-wind
AuthorYong, Suk Yee
AffiliationSchool of Physics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Suk Yee Yong
The brightest persistent astrophysical sources in the universe are quasars, a group of active galactic nuclei (AGN) that appear star-like and radiate across all wavelengths. The emitted radiation is believed to be powered by a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. Matter that falls into the black hole is being fed onto the accretion disk, heating up the disk in the process due to friction. A wind emanating from the accretion disk, or a disk-wind, appears ubiquitous in these objects and acts as one effective way to generate the spectral lines observed in the quasar's spectrum. The broad spectral lines, originating from the broad line region (BLR), show diverse properties, specifically in velocity shift, line width, and degree of asymmetry. Yet, the exact structure of the BLR has remained perplexing due to its small size, which means it is unresolved even with the current astronomical instrumentation. Thus, simulations are important. By developing a model of the BLR, an informative analysis of the line profiles allows us to explore some of the key questions about the BLR, emphasising the shape of spectral lines, the disk-wind BLR, and the orientation. We simulate line profile modelling using a simple kinematical disk-wind model of the BLR with radiative transfer in the high velocity limit. The model provides a framework to explore the characteristics of the emission line profile induced by the different geometries and kinematics of the BLR, including the opening angle of the wind and the geometry of the line emitting region. The effect of orientation in these systems is also examined. As a first step, we use the model to simulate a narrow outflowing disk-wind, which has been described in the literature. The primary objective is to determine whether the observed emission line properties are consistent with a narrow wind scenario. We find that the line profiles are more blueshifted for a narrow polar wind model as opposed to intermediate and equatorial models. When viewing at pole-on angles, the simulated emission lines show a narrower line width, which is asymmetric and more blueshifted than that viewed edge-on. The blueward shift of the line profile increases as the line-of-sight and wind intersect. The model is also able to recover a shorter time delay in the red or blue side of the line profiles, consistent with observational evidence in reverberation mapping studies. The second part of the thesis considers the properties of broad absorption line quasars (BALQs). These objects are rare and often display a blueward absorption trough relative to the emission line. One interpretation of the velocity offsets is the unification based on orientation, whereby a BAL is viewed within a constrained narrow wind angle. In order to test whether the BALQs and non-BALQs can be distinguished by their emission features, we conduct statistical tests and machine learning on the two populations. We find that their continuum and emission features are qualitatively similar, which contradicts the narrow disk-wind model in the geometric unification. Therefore, we propose a model of the disk-wind comprising a wide wind opening angle with multiple dense radial streams, where the BAL is detected when the line-of-sight crosses these streams. These findings have lead us to the discovery of a novel orientation indicator of quasars in the ultraviolet-optical regime. We propose a simple yet robust angle-of-viewing probe using the correlation between the velocity shifts and line widths. Our idea is shown to be qualitatively consistent with other orientation proxies. We also perform a wide angle disk-wind simulation and successfully retrieve the predicted correlation with inclination. In addition, we extend our model to estimate the bias in the virial black hole mass due to the scale factor f, which is related to the unknown nature of the BLR. Using a wide disk-wind configuration, we retrieve the f factors for a range of inclination angle. The f factor shows significant dependence with orientation, characterisation of the line width, and location of the emission region in the wind. Therefore, using a constant f value biases the estimation of the mass of the black hole.
Keywordsastrophysics; active galactic nuclei; quasars; black holes; broad emission line region; numerical simulations; data analysis; machine learning; statistics
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References