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Publication Date


Publication Title

The Astrophysical Journal


Department of Physics and Astronomy


We present spatially resolved long-slit spectroscopy from the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) to examine the spatial extent of the narrow-line regions (NLRs) of a sample of 8 luminous obscured quasars at 0.10 < z < 0.43. Our results are consistent with an observed shallow slope in the relationship between NLR size and L_[OIII], which has been interpreted to indicate that NLR size is limited by the density and ionization state of the NLR gas rather than the availability of ionizing photons. We also explore how the NLR size scales with a more direct measure of instantaneous AGN power using mid-IR photometry from WISE, which probes warm to hot dust near the central black hole and so, unlike [OIII], does not depend on the properties of the NLR. Using our results as well as samples from the literature, we obtain a power-law relationship between NLR size and L_8micron that is significantly steeper than that observed for NLR size and L_[OIII]. We find that the size of the NLR goes approximately as L^(1/2)_8micron, as expected from the simple scenario of constant-density clouds illuminated by a central ionizing source. We further see tentative evidence for a flattening of the relationship between NLR size and L_8micron at the high luminosity end, and propose that we are seeing a limiting NLR size of 10 - 20 kpc, beyond which the availability of gas to ionize becomes too low. We find that L_[OIII] ~ L_8micron^(1.4), consistent with a picture in which the L_[OIII] is dependent on the volume of the NLR. These results indicate that high-luminosity quasars have a strong effect in ionizing the available gas in a galaxy.



Original Citation

Kevin N. Hainline et al 2013 ApJ 774 145