Constraints on the broad-line region properties and extinction in local Seyferts

Allan Schnorr-Müller, R. I. Davies, K. T. Korista, L. Burtscher, D. Rosario, T. Storchi-Bergmann, A. Contursi, R. Genzel, J. Graciá-Carpio, E. K.S. Hicks, A. Janssen, M. Koss, M. Y. Lin, D. Lutz, W. Maciejewski, F. Müller-Sánchez, G. Orban de Xivry, R. Riffel, Rogemar A. Riffel, M. SchartmannA. Sternberg, E. Sturm, L. Tacconi, S. Veilleux, O. A. Ulrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use high-spectral resolution (R > 8000) data covering 3800-13 000 Å to study the physical conditions of the broad-line region (BLR) of nine nearby Seyfert 1 galaxies. Up to six broad H i lines are present in each spectrum. A comparison - for the first time using simultaneous optical to near-infrared observations - to photoionization calculations with our devised simple scheme yields the extinction to the BLR at the same time as determining the density and photon flux, and hence distance from the nucleus, of the emitting gas. This points to a typical density for the H i emitting gas of 1011 cm-3 and shows that a significant amount of this gas lies at regions near the dust sublimation radius, consistent with theoretical predictions. We also confirm that in many objects, the line ratios are far from case B, the best-fitting intrinsic broad-line Hα/H β ratios being in the range 2.5-6.6 as derived with our photoionization modelling scheme. The extinction to the BLR, based on independent estimates from H i and He ii lines, is AV ≤ 3 for Seyfert 1-1.5s, while Seyfert 1.8-1.9s have AV in the range 4-8. A comparison of the extinction towards the BLR and narrow-line region (NLR) indicates that the structure obscuring the BLR exists on scales smaller than the NLR. This could be the dusty torus, but dusty nuclear spirals or filaments could also be responsible. The ratios between the X-ray absorbing column NH and the extinction to the BLR are consistent with the Galactic gas-to-dust ratio if NH variations are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3570-3590
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Nov 2016


  • Dust
  • Extinction
  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: Seyfert
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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