The dusty torus is the cornerstone of the unified model of active galactic nuclei (AGN). The dusty environment surrounding the central engine (black hole and accretion disk) absorbs radiation and re-emits it at infrared (IR) wavelengths, peaking at 10-50 µm. IR observations in the 1-13 µm wavelength range from the ground have been key to advance our knowledge in this field, and our best understanding describes it as an optically and geometrically, clumpy and dusty toroidal distribution on scales of parsecs. However, the atmosphere is opaque to the 30-40 µm range and observations are impossible from ground-based telescopes. FORCAST has open a new window to explore AGN, providing the best angular resolution observations within the 30-40 µm range for the current suite of instruments. This talk presents the observational and modeling results of a sample of 12 AGN observed during Cycle 2. Observationally, we found that the torus does not peak at wavelengths <31.5 µm, and for the first time, we observe extended emission from the narrow line regions of AGN in the 30-40 µm range. From modeling, we found that the torus extent decreases by 30% in size when SOFIA 30-40 µm data is included in the clumpy torus models.
Active Galactic Nuclei: Investigating the Dusty Torus Using SOFIA
SOFIA Science Center