The ionized gas and nuclear environment in NGC 3783. II. Averaged Hubble Space Telescope/STIS and far ultraviolet spectroscopic explorer spectra

Jack R. Gabel, D. Michael Crenshaw, Steven B. Kraemer, W. N. Brandt, Ian M. George, Frederick W. Hamann, Mary Elizabeth Kaiser, Shai Kaspi, Gerard A. Kriss, Smita Mathur, Richard F. Mushotzky, Kirpal Nandra, Hagai Netzer, Bradley M. Peterson, Joseph C. Shields, T. J. Turner, Wei Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We present observations of the intrinsic absorption in the Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 3783 obtained with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble Space Telescope and the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE). We have combined 18 STIS and five FUSE observations to obtain a high signal-to-noise ratio averaged spectrum spanning 905-1730 Å. The averaged spectrum reveals absorption in O VI, N V, C V, N III, C III, and the Lyman lines up to Ly∈ in the three blueshifted kinematic components previously detected in the STIS spectrum (at radial velocities of - 1320, - 724, and - 548 km s-1). The highest velocity component exhibits absorption in Si IV. We also detect metastable C III in this component, indicating a high density in this absorber. No lower ionization lines, i.e., C II and Si II, are detected. A weak, fourth absorption component is tentatively detected in the high-ionization lines and Lyα and Lyβ at a radial velocity of - 1027 km s-1. The Lyman lines reveal a complex absorption geometry. The strength of the higher order lines indicates that Lyα and Lyβ are saturated over much of the resolved profiles in the three strongest absorption components and that, therefore, their observed profiles are determined by the covering factor. We separate the individual covering factors of the continuum and emission-line sources as a function of velocity in each kinematic component using the Lyα and Lyβ lines. The covering factor of the broad-line region is found to vary dramatically between the cores of the individual kinematic components, ranging from 0 to 0.84. In addition, we find that the continuum covering factor varies with velocity within the individual kinematic components, decreasing smoothly in the wings of the absorption by at least 60%. Comparison of the effective covering factors derived from the H I results with those determined directly from the doublets reveals that the covering factor of Si IV is less than half that of H I and N V in the high-velocity component. In addition, the FWHMs of N III and Si IV are narrower than those of the higher ionization lines in this component. These results indicate there is substructure within this absorber. We also find evidence for structure in the column density profiles of the high-ionization lines in this component. We derive a lower limit on the total column (NH ≥ 1019 cm-2) and ionization parameter (U ≥ 0.005) in the low-ionization subcomponent of this absorber. The metastable-to-total C III column density ratio implies ne ≈ 109 cm-3 and an upper limit on the distance of the absorber from the ionizing continuum of R ≤ 8 × 1017 cm. The decreasing covering factor found in the wings of the absorption and the extreme compactness of the C III* absorber are suggestive of a clumpy absorption gas with a low volume filling factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-191
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 20 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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