Bloated stars as AGN broad-line clouds: The emission-line profiles

Tal Alexander*, Hagai Netzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 'bloated stars scenario' proposes that AGN broad-line emission originates in the winds or envelopes of bloated stars (BSs). Alexander & Netzer established that ∼ 5 × 104 BSs with dense, large envelopes can reproduce the observed emission-line spectrum and avoid rapid collisional destruction. Here we use the observed properties of AGN line profiles to constrain the model parameters further. In the BS model, the origin of the broad profiles is the stellar velocity field in the vicinity of the central black hole. We use a detailed photoionization code and a model of the stellar distribution function to calculate the BS emission-line profiles and compare them with a large sample of AGN CIV γ1549, C III] γ1909 and Mg II γ2798 profiles. We find that the BSs can reproduce the general shape and width of typical AGN profiles as well as the line ratios if (i) the ionizing luminosity to black hole mass ratio is low enough, (ii) the broad-line region size is limited by some cut-off mechanism, (iii) the fraction of the BSs in the stellar population falls off roughly as r-2, and (iv) the wind density and/or velocity are correlated with the black hole mass and ionizing luminosity. Under these conditions the strong tidal forces near the black hole play an important role in determining the line-emission properties of the BSs. Some discrepancies remain: the calculated BS profiles tend to have weaker wings than the observed ones, and the differences between the profiles of different lines are somewhat smaller than those observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-980
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • Galaxies: active
  • Quasars: emission lines
  • Stars: kinematics


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