Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 441, 551-564 (2014/June-2)
A compendium of AGN inclinations with corresponding UV/optical continuum polarization measurements.
Abstract (from CDS):
The anisotropic nature of active galactic nuclei (AGN) is thought to be responsible for the observational differences between type-1 (pole-on) and type-2 (edge-on) nearby Seyfert-like galaxies. In this picture, the detection of emission and/or absorption features is directly correlated to the inclination of the system. The AGN structure can be further probed by using the geometry-sensitive technique of polarimetry, yet the pairing between observed polarization and Seyfert type remains poorly examined. Based on archival data, I report here the first compilation of 53 estimated AGN inclinations matched with ultraviolet/optical continuum polarization measurements. Corrections, based on the polarization of broad emission lines, are applied to the sample of Seyfert-2 AGN to remove dilution by starburst light and derive information about the scattered continuum alone. The resulting compendium agrees with past empirical results, i.e. type-1 AGN show low polarization degrees (P ≤ 1 percent) predominantly associated with a polarization position angle parallel to the projected radio axis of the system, while type-2 objects show stronger polarization percentages (P > 7 percent) with perpendicular polarization angles. The transition between type-1 and type-2 inclination occurs between 45° and 60° without noticeable impact on P. The compendium is further used as a test to investigate the relevance of four AGN models. While an AGN model with fragmented regions matches observations better than uniform models, a structure with a failed dusty wind along the equator and disc-born, ionized, polar outflows is by far closer to observations. However, although the models correctly reproduce the observed dichotomy between parallel and perpendicular polarization, as well as correct polarization percentages at type-2 inclinations, further work is needed to account for some highly polarized type-1 AGN.