Effects of an accretion disk wind on the profile of the balmer emission lines from active galactic nuclei

Hélène M.L.G. Flohic, Michael Eracleous, Tamara Bogdanović

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We explore the connection between active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with single- and double-peaked broad Balmer emission lines by using models dealing with radiative transfer effects through a disk wind. Our primary goal is to assess the applicability of the Murray & Chiang model by making an extensive and systematic comparison of the model predictions with data. In the process, we also verify the original derivation and evaluate the importance of general relativistic effects. As the optical depth through the emission layer increases, the peaks of a double-peaked profile move closer and eventually merge, producing a single peak. The properties of the emission line profile depend as sensitively on the geometric parameters of the line-emitting portion of the disk as they do on the disk-wind parameters. Using a parameter range that encompasses the expected characteristics of the broad-line regions in AGNs, we construct a database of model profiles and measure a set of diagnostic properties. Comparisons of the model profiles with emission lines from a subset of Sloan digital Sky Survey quasars show that observed lines are consistent with moderately large optical depth in the disk wind and a range of disk inclinations i ≲ 45°. Including relativistic effects is necessary to produce the asymmetries of observed line profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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