Multiwavelength observations of active galactic nuclei: Using current facilities and development of enabling technologies

Reinier Janssen

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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At the center of every galaxy there is a super-massive black hole of a million or more solar masses. In most galaxies the presence of this black hole can only be detected through its gravitational attraction, which affects the motion of nearby stars. However, in about 10% of the galaxies the super-massive black hole is the engine of one of the most luminous phenomena in the universe: an active galactic nucleus (AGN). In the local universe there are two types of AGN: ‘Radiative-mode’ and ‘Jet-mode’ AGN. In this thesis I show that these two AGN types are hosted by different galaxies and have different infrared properties. ‘Radiative-mode’ AGN are the ‘classical’ AGN which are bright emitters across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. They are thought to be powered by a super-massive black hole accreting matter at a high rate. I show that ‘radiative-mode’ AGN are predominantly found in intermediate mass galaxies with blue and green optical colors. These colors are indicative of active or recently terminated star formation and a young stellar population. Due to the presence of torus of hot dust near the black hole, galaxies with a ‘radiative-mode’ AGN typically show an excess of mid-infrared emission. ‘Jet-mode’ AGN lack the bright optical emission and excess infrared emission of ‘jet-mode’
AGN and can only be identified by means of their radio jet – a stream of relativistic particles that can reach far outside the AGN’s host galaxy. This absence of electromagnetic radiation and prominence of the radio jet is thought to be the result of the low accretion rate of the super-massive black hole driving this AGN type. I show that ‘jet-mode’ AGN have a strong preference for the most massive galaxies, which typically have little star formation. The presence or absence of a dusty torus and the resulting difference in broadband mid-infrared emission could be a powerful tool to separate ‘radiative-mode’ and ‘jet-mode’ AGN without using spectroscopy. Unfortunately, the inherent scatter in the mid-infrared emission of galaxies due to dust heated by stars is too large to separate the two populations reliably.
Far-infrared observations could help resolve this, by constraining the mid-infrared contribution of dust heated by stars. However, current far-infrared surveys do not have the depth or the area to give the number statistics required to calibrate this procedure. In this thesis I have investigated the properties of microwave kinetic inductance detectors. These detectors will enable the far-infrared instruments with 10.000 pixels as a result of their inherent potential for frequency domain multiplexing. This is a huge leap from the 100 pixel far-infrared instruments currently on telescopes. I have shown that microwave kinetic inductance detectors made from NbTiN and Al can satisfy all the requirements to enable a new generation of large format far-infrared cameras, which are required to constrain the far-infrared emission of many galaxies.
Original languageEnglish
  • Klapwijk, T.M., Supervisor
  • Rottgering, HJA, Supervisor, External person
  • Baselmans, J.J.A., Advisor
Award date26 Jan 2017
Print ISBNs978-90-8593-285-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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