An image of the dust sublimation region in the nucleus of NGC 1068

O. Pfuhl, R. Davies*, J. Dexter, H. Netzer, S. Hönig, D. Lutz, M. Schartmann, E. Sturm, A. Amorim, W. Brandner, Y. Clénet, P. T. De Zeeuw, A. Eckart, F. Eisenhauer, N. M. Förster Schreiber, F. Gao, P. J.V. Garcia, R. Genzel, S. Gillessen, D. GratadourM. Kishimoto, S. Lacour, F. Millour, T. Ott, T. Paumard, K. Perraut, G. Perrin, B. M. Peterson, P. O. Petrucci, M. A. Prieto, D. Rouan, J. Shangguan, T. Shimizu, A. Sternberg, O. Straub, C. Straubmeier, L. J. Tacconi, K. R.W. Tristram, P. Vermot, I. Waisberg, F. Widmann, J. Woillez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present near-infrared interferometric data on the Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 1068, obtained with the GRAVITY instrument on the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope Interferometer. The extensive baseline coverage from 5 to 60 Mλ allowed us to reconstruct a continuum image of the nucleus with an unrivaled 0.2 pc resolution in the K-band. We find a thin ring-like structure of emission with a radius r = 0.24 ± 0.03 pc, inclination i = 70 ± 5°, position angle PA = -50 ± 4°, and h/r < 0.14, which we associate with the dust sublimation region. The observed morphology is inconsistent with the expected signatures of a geometrically and optically thick torus. Instead, the infrared emission shows a striking resemblance to the 22 GHz maser disc, which suggests they share a common region of origin. The near-infrared spectral energy distribution indicates a bolometric luminosity of (0.4-4.7) × 1045 erg s-1, behind a large AK ≈ 5.5 (AV ≈ 90) screen of extinction that also appears to contribute significantly to obscuring the broad line region.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


FundersFunder number
Centre National de la Recherche Sci-entifique
Programme National Hautes Energies
National Science Foundation1909711, AST 1909711
Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme610058, 677117
Engineering Research Centers
Fundação para a Ciência e a TecnologiaSFRH/BSAB/142940/2018, UID/FIS/00099/2013


    • Galaxies: Seyfert
    • Galaxies: active
    • Galaxies: nuclei
    • Techniques: interferometric


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