Strong gravitational lensing and the structure of quasar outflows

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We show that by analyzing the spectra of lensed broad absorption line quasars (BALQSOs), it is possible to reveal key properties of the outflowing gas in the inner regions of these objects. This results from the fact that each image of the quasar corresponds to a different line of sight through the outflow. This, combined with dynamical estimates for the location of the flow, adds new information concerning the lateral, non-line-of-sight structure of the absorbing gas. Here we consider a sample of lensed BALQSOs and note that the similarity of BAL profiles of different images of the same quasar implies that the flow is relatively isotropic on small scales. We show that its geometry is inconsistent with the ballistically accelerated spherical cloud model and that wind models provide a better description of the flow structure. Furthermore, observations seem to disagree with naive interpretations of recent time-dependent wind simulations. This may hint at several important physical processes that govern the structure and dynamics of such flows. Future prospects for the study of quasar outflows with the effect of strong gravitational lensing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L43-L46
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Gravitational lensing
  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • Quasars: absorption lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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