AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 44 Active Galaxies
Poster, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 10:00am-7:00pm, Ballroom

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[44.10] What Can We Learn About Accretion Disks from Double-Peaked Balmer Line Profiles?

I.V. Strateva (Penn State), M.A. Strauss (Princeton)

Double-peaked Balmer line profiles in the optical, along with Fe K\alpha lines in the X-rays, provide the most direct evidence for the existence of accretion disks in the vicinities of supermassive black holes in Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). Using simulated disk-emission line profiles, we find that we can correctly infer the disk parameters by modeling the data with axisymmetric, externally illuminated disks, provided that precaution is taken to assure that the underlying disk emission is not coming from a non-axisymmetric disk, that the underlying stellar continuum is correctly subtracted, and the surface emissivity of the disk is restricted to theoretically motivated values. We model a carefully selected subsample of the new SDSS double-peaked sample (Strateva et al. 2003) with axisymmetric, externally illuminated disks. Using the inclinations and relative disk emission sizes inferred from 31 model fits from the SDSS H\alpha line sample, combined with the sample of Eracleous and Halpern 2003, we discuss evidence for the existence of coplanar obscuring material (a torus or dusty wind) and the need for external illumination of the disk, as well as the possible effects of self-gravity in shaping the observed disk line-emission.

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