EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 490, Number 3, November II 2008
Page(s) 975 - 987
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810408
Published online 25 August 2008

A&A 490, 975-987 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200810408

Stars and gas in the Medusa merger

E. Manthey1, 2, S. Hüttemeister2, S. Aalto3, C. Horellou3, and P. Bjerkeli3

1  Astron, 7990AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
    e-mail: juette@astron.nl
2  University of Bochum, Department of Astronomy, 44780 Bochum, Germany
3  Onsala Space Observatory, Chalmers University of Technology, 43992 Onsala, Sweden

Received 17 June 2008 / Accepted 20 August 2008

The Medusa (NGC 4194) is a well-studied nearby galaxy with the disturbed appearance of a merger and evidence for ongoing star formation. In order to test whether it could be the result of an interaction between a gas-rich disk-like galaxy and a larger elliptical, we have carried out optical and radio observations of the stars and the gas in the Medusa, and performed N-body numerical simulations of the evolution of such a system. We used the Nordic Optical Telescope to obtain a deep V-band image and the Westerbork Radio Synthesis Telescope to map the large-scale distribution and kinematics of atomic hydrogen. A single HI tail was found to the South of the Medusa with a projected length of ~56 kpc (~5') and a gas mass of 7 $\times$ $10^8~M_{\odot}$, thus harbouring about one third of the total HI mass of the system. HI was also detected in absorption toward the continuum in the center. HI was detected in a small nearby galaxy to the North-West of the Medusa at a projected distance of 91 kpc. It is, however, unlikely that this galaxy has had a significant influence on the evolution of the Medusa. The simulations of the slightly prograde infall of a gas-rich disk galaxy on an larger, four time more massive elliptical (spherical) galaxy reproduce most of the observed features of the Medusa. Thus, the Medusa is an ideal object to study the merger-induced star formation contribution from the small galaxy of a minor merger.

Key words: galaxies: interactions -- galaxies: starburst -- galaxies: individual: NGC 4194 -- radio lines: galaxies -- radio lines: ISM

© ESO 2008