Understanding the obscuring torus and the nuclear star formation of AGN using GTC/CanariCam observations
The fueling of black holes occurring in active galactic nuclei (AGN) is fundamental to the evolution of galaxies. AGN themselves are largely explained in the context of a unified theory, by which a geometrically and optically thick torus of gas and dust obscures the AGN central engine. The torus intercepts a substantial amount of flux from the central engine and and reradiates it in the infrared. In this talk I will present our CanariCam ESO/GTC large programme which is aimed at understanding the properties of the obscuring material around AGN, including the torus, and the role of nuclear (< 100 pc) starbursts in feeding and/or obscuring AGNs. The CanariCam nearly diffraction limited observations (median 0.3arcsecond), which were finished recently, include imaging and spectroscopy of 45 local AGN, and polarimetry for selected AGN. I will first present an overview of the spectroscopic properties of the sample. Then I will discuss results on the torus properties of different types of AGN from the modelling of the unresolved infrared emission with the CLUMPY torus models. Finally I will also show that we can use the 11.3micron PAH feature to trace star formation activity in the nuclear regions of AGN.