Infrared polarimetry of Mrk 231: scattering off hot dust grains in the central core

E. Lopez-Rodriguez, C. Packham, T. J. Jones, R. Siebenmorgen, P. F. Roche, N.A. Levenson, A. Alonso-Herrero, E. Perlman, K. Ichikawa, C. Ramos Almeida, O. Gonzalez-Martin, R. Nikutta, M. Martinez-Paredes, D. Shenoy, M. S. Gordon, C. M. Telesco. 2017. Infrared polarimetry of Mrk 231: scattering off hot dust grains in the central core. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 464, 2, 1762-1770, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw2491

We present high-angular (0.17-0.35 arcsec) resolution imaging polarimetric observations of Mrk 231 in the 3.1 mu m filter using MMT-Pol on the 6.5-m MMT, and in the 8.7, 10.3, and 11.6 mu m filters using CanariCam on the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS. In combination with already published observations, we compile the 1-12 mu m total and polarized nuclear spectral energy distribution (SED). The total flux SED in the central 400 pc is explained as the combination of (1) a hot (731 +/- 4 K) dusty structure, directly irradiated by the central engine, which is at 1.6 +/- 0.1 pc away and attributed to be in the pc-scale polar region, (2) an optically-thick, smooth and disc-like dusty structure (‘torus’) with an inclination of 48 degrees +/- 23 degrees surrounding the central engine, and (3) an extinguished (A(V) = 36 +/- 5 mag) starburst component. The polarized SED decreases from 0.77 +/- 0.14 per cent at 1.2 mu m to 0.31 +/- 0.15 per cent at 11.6 mu m and follows a power-law function, lambda(similar to 0.57). The polarization angle remains constant (similar to 108 degrees) in the 1-12 mu m wavelength range. The dominant polarization mechanism is explained as scattering-off hot dust grains in the pc-scale polar regions.

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