Journal Article

The low-luminosity active galactic nucleus in the centre of the Galaxy

M. Contini

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 418, issue 3, pages 1935-1947
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The low-luminosity active galactic nucleus in the centre of the Galaxy

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The observations of far-infrared line and continuum spectra throughout the Galactic Centre and in some regions of the disc are analysed in order to determine the physical conditions (densities, shock velocities, radiation parameters etc.) and the relative abundances of some elements (C, N and O). Consistent model calculations of the line and continuum spectra show that, although the radiation from the stars dominates, an active galactic nucleus (AGN) is clearly present, with a radiation maximum in the Sgr A* region. The models account for the coupled effect of photoionization and shocks. The flux, similar to that found in low-luminosity AGNs, is lower by a factor of ∼100 than that of AGN. Gas densities in the downstream line emission region range between 100 and 3000 cm−3, the shock velocities between 50 and 300 km s−1. Densities of ∼5 × 106 cm−3, close to the Sgr A* black hole, lead to self-absorption of free–free radiation in the radio frequency range, while X-ray data are explained by shock velocities of ∼3000 km s−1. A magnetic field of ∼10 −4 G shows relatively small fluctuations throughout the Galactic Centre. The dust-to-gas ratios range between 3 × 10−15 and ≤10−13 by number. Lower values are found far from the centre, suggesting that N and O, which are depleted from the gaseous phase, are included into molecules rather than trapped into grains.

Keywords: shock waves; radiation mechanisms: general; ISM: abundances; Galaxy: centre; galaxies: active; radio continuum: galaxies

Journal Article.  8554 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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