EDP Sciences
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Volume 389, Number 3, July III 2002
Page(s) 825 - 835
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020680

A&A 389, 825-835 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020680

Star formation in the warped outer pseudoring of the spiral galaxy NGC 3642

L. Verdes-Montenegro1, A. Bosma2 and E. Athanassoula2

1  Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, Apdo. 3004, 18080 Granada, Spain
2  Observatoire de Marseille, 2 Place le Verrier, 13248 Marseille Cedex 4, France

(Received 15 March 2002 / Accepted 26 April 2002 )

NGC 3642 was classified as a spiral galaxy with three rings and no bar. We have performed an HI and optical study of this nearly face-on galaxy. We find that the nuclear ring might in fact be part of an inner one-armed spiral, that could be driving nuclear accretion and feeding the central activity in the inner kpc. The inner ring is faint, and the outer ring is a rather ill-defined pseudoring. Furthermore, the size ratio of the rings is such that they cannot be due to a single pattern speed linking them together. The outer pseudoring is peculiar, since it lies in the faint outer parts of the disk, where star formation is still going on at 1.4 times the optical radius. Higher HI column densities are associated with these regions and the atomic gas layer is warped. These perturbations affect only the outer disk, since the kinematics within the main body conforms well to an ordinary differentially rotating disk. We propose here that both nuclear activity and star formation in the warped outer parts might be linked to the fact that NGC 3642 is located in a rich environment, where its close neighbors show clear signs of merging. Our suggestion is that NGC 3642 has captured recently a low-mass, gas-rich dwarf, and star formation was triggered in this infalling external gas that produced also a pronounced warp in the gaseous disk.

Key words: galaxies: individual: NGC 3642 -- galaxies: kinematics -- galaxies: photometry -- galaxies: spiral -- galaxies: structure

Offprint request: L. Verdes-Montenegro, lourdes@iaa.es

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