Dust Destruction by Charging: A Possible Origin of Gray Extinction Curves of Active Galactic Nuclei

Ryo Tazaki, Kohei Ichikawa, Mitsuru Kokubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Observed extinction curves of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are significantly different from those observed in the Milky Way. The observations require preferential removal of small grains at the AGN environment; however, the physics for this remains unclear. In this paper, we propose that dust destruction by charging, or Coulomb explosion, may be responsible for AGN extinction curves. Harsh AGN radiation makes a dust grain highly charged through photoelectric emission, and grain fission via Coulomb explosion occurs when the electrostatic tensile stress of a charge grain exceeds its tensile strength. We show that Coulomb explosion can preferentially remove both small silicate and graphite grains and successfully reproduce both flat extinction curve and the absence of 2175 Å bump.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume892
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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