Feeding & hiding AGN

Feeding and hiding the monster: triggering and obscuring the central engine of active galaxies.

Some of the most important open questions in astrophysics concern how and when active galactic nuclei (AGN) are triggered, and how important they are in the evolution of galaxies. In order to understand these processes and interpret the results found for AGN at cosmological distances, it is fundamental to account for the structure of their central engines in the local universe. This page is dedicated to the project “Feeding & hiding AGN” (PIEF-GA-2012-327934), funded by the 7th European Community Framework Programme.

Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

Goals of the project.

  • Characterize the AGN obscuring torus using an infrared survey of nearby active galaxies. We will use mid- and far-infrared data obtained with the instrument CanariCam on the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) and the Herschel Space Observatory, respectively. This survey will represent the definitive characterization of the AGN torus in the local universe.
  • Confirm the hypothesis that AGN of different luminosities are triggered in different ways, with galaxy interactions triggering luminous AGN (quasar-like), and secular processes (bars or disc instabilities) triggering lower luminosity AGN (Seyfert-like) and study the role of the environment in the triggering.

Relevant scientific results.

1) Publications based on GTC/CanariCam mid-infrared data led by members of the AGN CanariCam Science Team (CCST).

GTC/CanariCam 8.7 µm image of the Seyfert 2 galaxy Mrk 1066 (left panel) and AGN-subtracted image in the same filter (right panel). Image obtained in Aug 2013 as part of the ESO/GTC large program led by A. Alonso-Herrero and published in Ramos Almeida et al. (2014) and Alonso-Herrero et al. (2014).

2) Publications related to the triggering of luminous AGN: the role of the environment in the triggering and the cold gas contents of radio galaxies.


Distribution of spatial clustering amplitudes (Bgq) of the powerful radio galaxies (PRGs), type-2 quasars and control sample galaxies (EGS and EGS*). Figure from Ramos Almeida et al. (2013).

 Dissemination of scientific results.

 Outreach activities.

This research is supported by the Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship PIEF-GA-2012-327934 within the 7th European Community Framework Programme.