The idea that a significant fraction of line emission in AGN comes directly from an accretion disk is attractive for several reasons – not least the obvious one of establishing the black hole paradigm. We performed a few consistency tests for the hypothesis that both FE Kα and Hα are emitted by an accretion disk.
The main results of this preliminary investigation are as follows. FE Kα is systematically much broader than Hα at FWHM, but the widths of the two lines are not correlated. For each of the 9 objects with FE Kα profile most consistent with disk emission, we computed the possible disk contribution on the basis of a weak field model. Although the Hα profiles are not consistent with disk model emission, rotational motion could still be the main broadening mechanism. We then compared disk inclinations deduced from FE Kα model profile fitting to the ones we derived from model fits of Hα. The inclination values are consistent. Finally, we found that a simple illumination model can produce both disk FE Kα and Hα emission, if a small fraction of continuum is scattered toward the disk to yield ionization parameter ξ > 10−2 ergs s−1 cm.
We conclude that the bulk FE Kα cannot be associated to the Broad Line Region. Albeit several radio-quiet Seyfert 1 objects show FE Kα profiles consistent with emission from the inner part of an illuminated accretion disk, the general situation remains unclear, as fits to line profiles require an unsatisfactory large range in model parameters like emissivity and inner and outer radii.