Indexed on: 06 Oct '99Published on: 06 Oct '99Published in: Astrophysics
We have examined the physical conditions in the narrow-line region of the well-studied Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151, using long-slit spectra obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (HST/STIS). The data were taken along a position angle of 221 degrees, centered on the optical nucleus. We have generated photoionization models for a contiguous set of radial zones, out to 2.3 arcsec in projected position to the southwest of the nucleus, and 2.7 arcsec to the northeast. Given the uncertainties in the reddening correction, the calculated line ratios successfully matched nearly all the dereddened ratios. We find that the narrow-line region consists of dusty atomic gas photoionized by a power-law continuum that has been modified by transmission through a mix of low and high ionization gas, specifically UV and X-ray absorbing components. The physical characteristics of the absorbers resemble those observed along our line of sight to the nucleus, although the column density of the X-ray absorber is a factor of ten less than observed. The large inferred covering factor of the absorbing gas is in agreement with the results of our previous study of UV absorption in Seyfert 1 galaxies. We find evidence, specifically the suppression of L-alpha, that we are observing the back-end of dusty ionized clouds in the region southwest of the nucleus. Since these clouds are blueshifted, this supports the interpretation of the cloud kinematics as being due to radial outflow from the nucleus. We find that the narrow-line gas at each radial position is inhomogeneous, and can be modeled as consisting of a radiation-bounded component and a more tenuous, matter-bounded component. The density of the narrow-line gas dropswith increasing radial distance, which confirms our earlier results.