Fr.: tore obscurcissant
A structure of dust and gas postulated to surround the central → black hole in an → active galactic nucleus (AGN). The presence of an obscuring torus allows the unification of the two main types of AGNs containing a → broad-line region (Type I) and a → narrow-line region (Type II), respectively. In this unified model, the two types represent the same sort of object, the appearance of which depends on the viewer's → line of sight. The best evidence for this model comes from spectropolarimetry observations of some type II AGNs in which broad → emission lines are seen in → polarized light, as would happen if the broad-line region truly were hidden, and the light were being reflected off the torus and into the viewer's line of sight.