AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 86 Ground Based Optical Interferometry
Special Session, Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am, January 10, 2006, Delaware A

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[86.04] Infrared Interferometry Contributions to Understanding the AGN Phenomena

M. R. Swain (JPL)

Infrared interferometry observations have resolved the nuclear emission features in three Seyfert galaxies. These observations constituted a new and direct test of Seyfert I/II unification models. Observations of this type have only recently become possible with the advent of the VLTI and the Keck Interferometer. When the existing observations are considered together, interferometer measurements have resolved the infrared nuclear emission over a range of scales, including relatively cool dust on large scales and thermal gas in the broad line region. The AGN related features observed with infrared interferometers cover a crucial range of wavelengths and spatial scales and are uniquely suited to characterize the region containing the transition from dust dominated emission to gas dominated emission. In addition to confirming the presence of an obscuring torus in NGC 1068, interferometer observations are of sufficient quality to begin inferring some of the properties of that torus. This talk will focus on a presentation of the current science results followed by a discussion of some AGN related questions which infrared interferometry can potentially answer in the very near future with existing instruments.

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