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Title: The orientation of accretion disks and jets in quasars
Author: Down, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 4310
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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All massive nearby galaxies, including our own, host supermassive black holes. Active galactic nuclei (AGN) are seen when such black holes accrete, and when they produce powerful jets of synchrotron-emitting plasma, they are termed radio-loud AGN. The close correlation between black hole mass and galaxy bulge mass in elliptical galaxies indicates that AGN feedback may be the key to the regulation of galaxy formation. It is thus necessary to fully understand the structure of AGN, the way that they are fuelled, and their duty cycle, in order to study the feedback processes and get a clear picture of galaxy formation. In this thesis, independent methods are developed to constrain the accretion disk and radio jet angles to the line of sight. H IX emission from a sub-sample of high-redshift quasars is measured from near-infrared spectroscopy and modelled as sums of different components, including the characteristic double-peaked profile which results from a thin, rotating accretion disk. Comparing the models using Bayesian evidence, almost all quasars were found to have infrared spectra consistent with the presence of a disk. The jet inclination angles of the same set of quasars were constrained by fitting a model, including the effect of Doppler boosting and the receding torus model for dust obscuration, to the radio \ spectral energy distribution. The fitted disk and jet angles correlate strongly, and are consistent with a model in which the radio jets are launched orthogonally to the plane of the accretion disk, as expected if the jet is powered by energy drawn from the spin of the black hole. Both disk and jet angles correlate with the observed linear source size, which is a projection effect; when deprojected using the fitted angles, the distribution of source sizes agrees with a scenario in which the sources expand into the surrounding medium at a constant rate up to ~ 1 Mpc and then shut off, probably as the nuclei become quiescent. The accretion disk angle was found to correlate weakly with the low-frequency radio luminosity, which provides direct, albeit tenuous, evidence for the receding torus model.
Supervisor: Rawlings, Steve ; Baker, Joanne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Accretion (Astrophysics) ; Quasars ; Black holes (Astronomy) ; Synchrotron radiation ; Active galactic nuclei