Invited Talk - Splinter SMBHs

Wednesday, 23 September 2020, 14:00   (virtual room K)

The complex multi-phase multi-component picture of accretion and outflows in AGN

Sebastian F. Hoenig
University of Southampton

Mass accretion onto supermassive black holes occurs on scales beyond the diffraction limit of any single optical/infrared (IR) telescope. Thanks to the resolution power of the VLT Interferometer and ALMA, we are now tapping into the outer accretion structure of active galactic nuclei (AGN) — commonly referred to as the “dusty torus”. New and surprising results challenge the current paradigm: the bulk of the mid-IR emission is not originating from the putative torus, but extends far into the outflow region of the AGN, ranging from sub-parsec scales to 100s pc. At the same time, sub-mm molecular lines of the same region show relatively flat rotating structures of dens gas. I will give an overview of the state of high-resolution observations of AGN and discuss the new emerging disk+wind paradigm in the context of AGN unification in a multi-phase medium, including some simple physical principles that help understand this outer accretion and inner feedback region.