Non-Sobolev modelling of radiation-pressure-driven flows in active galactic nuclei

Doron Chelouche, Hagai Netzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a new general scheme for calculating the structure and dynamics of radiationpressure-driven photoionized flows. The new method goes one step beyond the Sobolev approximation. It involves a numerical solution of the radiative transfer in absorption lines, including the effects of differential expansion and line interactions such as line locking and blanketing. We also present a new scheme for calculating the radiation pressure due to trapped line photons in finite, differentially expanding flows. We compare our results for the radiation pressure force with those obtained using the Sobolev approximation and show the limitations of the latter. In particular, we demonstrate that the Sobolev method gives a poor approximation near discontinuity surfaces and its neglect of line blanketing can lead to erroneous results in high-velocity flows. We combine the newly calculated radiation pressure force with self-consistent photoionization and thermal calculations to study the dynamics and spectral features of broad absorption-line flows and highly ionized gas flows in active galactic nuclei (AGN). A comparison with Sobolev-type calculations shows that the latter overestimates the terminal velocity of the flow and, conversely, underestimates its opacity. We also show that line locking on broad emission lines can have a significant effect on the dynamics and spectral features of AGN flows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: Active
  • Galaxies: Nuclei
  • ISM: Jets and outflows
  • Methods: Numerical
  • Quasars: Absorption lines
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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