Dust in the Wind: testing a new paradigm for the nature of AGN feedback

Rosario, David J. V.; Burtscher, Leonard; Hoenig, Sebastian F.; Alonso-Herrero, Almudena; Asmus, Daniel; Boeker, Torsten; Boorman, Peter; Davies, Richard I.; Diaz-Santos, Tanio; Fuller, Lindsay et al.
Bibliographical reference

JWST Proposal. Cycle 1

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Understanding the ouflows driven by Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) is of key importance for the modern view of galaxy evolution. A recent paradigm shift in our picture of dust in the vicinity of AGN offers promise for outflow science. We now know that a major part of an AGN's mid-infrared (MIR) dust emission comes from a polar structure that arises in a radiatively-accelerated dusty wind. Ground-based work has shown that similar polar emission is also found hundreds of pc away from the nucleus. If we can confirm that this extended polar emission is fundamentally connected to the pc-scale dusty wind, it will be our best evidence yet for a coherent dynamical connection between nuclear and galaxy-scale outflows.

This proposal will employ MIRI multi-filter imaging to unravel the nature of AGN-heated emission beyond the central 100 parsec. It relies on the unparalleled surface-brightness sensitivity of JWST, a strength that the best ground-based instruments cannot match. Our 8 targets are well-studied nearby Seyferts that already have established polar dust detections, and are carefully selected for their high-resolution ancillary data (HST imaging, AO-assisted and ALMA 3D spectroscopy).

The new JWST data will reveal the structure and colors of the extended dust. We will compare the geometry of the dust to the predictions of hydrodynamic simulations, determine its masses and energy content using state-of-the-art radiative transfer models, and explore its grain composition using novel diagnostics of broad-band spectral features. Along with ancillary kinematic information, we will test the salient hypothesis that the extended dust emission is shaped by a nuclear outflow.