Revisiting the Unified Model of Active Galactic Nuclei
This review describes recent developments related to the unified model of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). It focuses on new ideas about the origin and properties of the central obscurer (torus) and the connection to its surroundings. The review does not address radio unification. AGN tori must be clumpy but uncertainties about their properties persist. Today's most promising models involve disk winds of various types and hydrodynamic simulations that link the large-scale galactic disk to the inner accretion flow. Infrared (IR) studies greatly improved our understanding of the spectral energy distribution of AGNs, but they are hindered by various selection effects. X-ray samples are more complete. The dependence of the covering factor of the torus on luminosity is a basic relationship that remains unexplained. There is also much confusion regarding real type-II AGNs, which do not fit into a simple unification scheme. The most impressive recent results are due to IR interferometry, which is not in accord with most torus models, and the accurate mapping of central ionization cones. AGN unification may not apply to merging systems and is possibly restricted to secularly evolving galaxies.
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- August 2015
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- To appear in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ARAA) vol. 53 (2015)