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Radiative acceleration in outflows from broad absorption line quasi-stellar objects. 2: Wind models
Arav, Nahum; Li, Zhi-Yun; Begelman, Mitchell C.
AA(Colorado Univ., Boulder, CO, US), AB(Colorado Univ., Boulder, CO, US), AC(Colorado Univ., Boulder, CO, US)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 432, no. 1, p. 62-74 (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Absorption Spectra, Astronomical Models, Computerized Simulation, Mathematical Models, Particle Acceleration, Quasars, Radiation Pressure, Stellar Winds, Confinement, Hubble Space Telescope, Line Spectra, Ultraviolet Spectra
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We investigate the dynamics of radiatively driven broad absorption-line (BAL) outflows in quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) by developing radial and time-independent numerical models. Two limits are explored. The first assumes that the absorbing matter is not forced to comove with the substrate, which provides pressure confinement. This assumption allows us to explore in detail a case in which the acceleration is entirely due to radiation pressure. Using the parameters inferred from observations, we find that under these conditions radiative acceleration (mainly due to resonance line scattering) can readily accelerate the flow to the observed velocities. An important feature of the non-coupled flow is that the line profiles tend to stay relatively flat throughout the velocity interval covered by the line. We discuss how relaxing the assumptions of radial symmetry and time independent may help to explain the structures observed in BALs. In the second class of models, the absorbing flow is assumed to be completely coupled to the substrate in which it is embedded. Aside from being more plausible physically, these models produce line profiles that trail off at higher velocities, a behavior observed in some BALs. We show that, even if the substrate is massless, we have to assume a starting radius very close to the inferred radius of the broad emission-line region (approximately 0.1 pc) in order to obtain a significant contribution from radiative acceleration, given a typical active galactic nucleus (AGN) spectrum. The reason is that the energy input needed to pressurize the substrate, allowing the flow to become supersonic and to retain a reasonable ionization equilibrium, at the same time contributes appreciably to the acceleration. A way to relax the small starting radius constraint is to use a softer ionizing spectrum.

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