Interrogating Seyferts with NebulaBayes: spatially probing the narrow-line region radiation fields and chemical abundances

Adam D. Thomas, Michael A. Dopita, Lisa J. Kewley, Brent A. Groves, Ralph S. Sutherland, Andrew M. Hopkins, Guillermo A. Blanc

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29 Citations (Scopus)


NebulaBayes is a new Bayesian code that implements a general method of comparing observed emission-line fluxes to photoionization model grids. The code enables us to extract robust, spatially resolved measurements of abundances in the extended narrow-line regions (ENLRs) produced by Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). We observe near-constant ionization parameters but steeply radially declining pressures, which together imply that radiation pressure regulates the ENLR density structure on large scales. Our sample includes four "pure Seyfert" galaxies from the S7 survey that have extensive ENLRs. NGC 2992 shows steep metallicity gradients from the nucleus into the ionization cones. An inverse metallicity gradient is observed in ESO 138-G01, which we attribute to a recent gas inflow or minor merger. A uniformly high metallicity and hard ionizing continuum are inferred across the ENLR of Mrk 573. Our analysis of IC 5063 is likely affected by contamination from shock excitation, which appears to soften the inferred ionizing spectrum. The peak of the ionizing continuum E peak is determined by the nuclear spectrum and the absorbing column between the nucleus and the ionized nebula. We cannot separate variation in this intrinsic E peak from the effects of shock or H ii region contamination, but E peak measurements nevertheless give insights into ENLR excitation. We demonstrate the general applicability of NebulaBayes by analyzing a nuclear spectrum from the non-active galaxy NGC 4691 using a H ii region grid. The NLR and H ii region model grids are provided with NebulaBayes for use by the astronomical community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
Number of pages21
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: Seyfert
  • ISM: abundances
  • quasars: emission lines


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