The central dusty torus in the active nucleus of NGC 1068

Jaffe, W., Meisenheimer, K., Rottgering, HJA., Leinert, C., Richichi, A., Chesneau, O., Fraix-Burnet, D., Glazenborg-Kluttig, A., Granato, GL., Graser, U., Heijligers, B., Kohler, R., Malbet, F., Miley, GK., Paresce, F., Pel, JW., Perrin, G., Przygodda, F., Schoeller, M., Sol, H., Waters, LBFM., Weigelt, G., Woillez, J. & de Zeeuw, PT., 6-May-2004, In : Nature. 429, 6987, p. 47-49 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • W Jaffe
  • K Meisenheimer
  • HJA Rottgering
  • C Leinert
  • A Richichi
  • O Chesneau
  • D Fraix-Burnet
  • A Glazenborg-Kluttig
  • GL Granato
  • U Graser
  • B Heijligers
  • R Kohler
  • F Malbet
  • GK Miley
  • F Paresce
  • JW Pel
  • G Perrin
  • F Przygodda
  • M Schoeller
  • H Sol
  • LBFM Waters
  • G Weigelt
  • J Woillez
  • PT de Zeeuw

Active galactic nuclei (AGNs) display many energetic phenomena - broad emission lines, X-rays, relativistic jets, radio lobes originating from matter falling onto a supermassive black hole. It is widely accepted that orientation effects play a major role in explaining the observational appearance of AGNs. Seen from certain directions, circum-nuclear dust clouds would block our view of the central powerhouse(1,2). Indirect evidence suggests that the dust clouds form a parsec-sized torus-shaped distribution. This explanation, however, remains unproved, as even the largest telescopes have not been able to resolve the dust structures. Here we report interferometric mid-infrared observations that spatially resolve these structures in the galaxy NGC 1068. The observations reveal warm (320 K) dust in a structure 2.1 parsec thick and 3.4 parsec in diameter, surrounding a smaller hot structure. As such a configuration of dust clouds would collapse in a time much shorter than the active phase of the AGN(3), this observation requires a continual input of kinetic energy to the cloud system from a source coexistent with the AGN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-49
Number of pages3
Issue number6987
Publication statusPublished - 6-May-2004



ID: 4222049