Near-infrared polarimetric adaptive optics observations of NGC 1068: A torus created by a hydromagnetic outflow wind

E. Lopez-Rodriguez, C. Packham, T. J. Jones, R. Nikutta, L. McMaster, R. E. Mason, M. Elvis, D. Shenoy, A. Alonso-Herrero, E. Ramírez, O. González Martín, S. F. Hönig, N. A. Levenson, C. Ramos Almeida, E. Perlman

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22 Scopus citations


We present J' and K' imaging linear polarimetric adaptive optics observations of NGC 1068 using MMT-Pol on the 6.5-m MMT. These observations allow us to study the torus from a magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) framework. In a 0.5 arcsec (30 pc) aperture at K', we find that polarization arising from the passage of radiation from the inner edge of the torus through magnetically aligned dust grains in the clumps is the dominant polarization mechanism, with an intrinsic polarization of 7.0 ± 2.2 per cent. This result yields a torus magnetic field strength in the range of 4-82 mG through paramagnetic alignment, and 139+11 -20 mG through the Chandrasekhar-Fermi method. The measured position angle (P.A.) of polarization at K' is found to be similar to the P.A. of the obscuring dusty component at few parsec scales using infrared interferometric techniques. We show that the constant component of the magnetic field is responsible for the alignment of the dust grains, and aligned with the torus axis on to the plane of the sky. Adopting this magnetic field configuration and the physical conditions of the clumps in the MHD outflow wind model, we estimate a mass outflow rate ≤0.17 M⊙ yr-1 at 0.4 pc from the central engine for those clumps showing near-infrared dichroism. The models used were able to create the torus in a time-scale of ≥105 yr with a rotational velocity of ≤1228 km s-1 at 0.4 pc.We conclude that the evolution, morphology and kinematics of the torus in NGC 1068 can be explained within a MHD framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1902-1913
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 11 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.


  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • MHD
  • Magnetic fields
  • Polarization
  • Techniques: high angular resolution


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