Closing in on the launching sites of AGN outflows

Shimizu, Thomas Taro; Alonso-Herrero, Almudena; Asmus, Daniel; Boorman, Peter; Burtscher, Leonard; Colina, Luis; Combes, Francoise; Davies, Richard I.; Diaz-Santos, Tanio; Garcia Bernete, Ismael et al.
Bibliographical reference

JWST Proposal. Cycle 1

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Supermassive black holes, and the outflows they drive, are an established part of our understanding of galaxy evolution. Indeed, cosmological models rely on outflows to reproduce the observed scaling relations. But the enormous range of outflow rates that are measured for AGN of the same luminosity, highlights a gaping hole in our understanding of how outflows are launched and driven. Our sample of AGN at similar distances and with similar luminosities, but with outflow rates differing by two orders of magnitude, provides the ideal opportunity to fill this gap. We will exploit the rich suite of diagnostics at 5-29um with MIRI MRS integral field spectroscopy and the sensitivity and resolution of JWST. Our analysis is built on the three cornerstones of molecular gas, ionized gas, and dust - observed together at the same resolution over the same scales, enabling us to build a holistic view of the central few hundred parsecs. From the spatially resolved kinematics we will construct geometrical models that provide a direct view of how gas is fed in from the circumnuclear disk through the obscuring torus and driven out in the outflow. We will associate the PAHs and the hot dust continuum to each of these components to test new models of the torus. And from the numerous line ratios, we will quantify the role of AGN versus stellar photoionization on the different structures. Piecing this together will enable us to highlight the physical processes that determine the prominence of the observed outflow, leading to a major advance in our understanding of the key mechanisms at the root of AGN fuelling and feedback.