Molecular disks in radio galaxies
The pathway to ALMA
INAF – Istituto di Radioastronomia,
2 European Southern Observatory, Garching b. Munchën, Germany
Accepted: 30 August 2010
Context. It has recently been proposed that the jets of low-luminosity radio galaxies are powered by direct accretion of the hot phase of the IGM onto the central black hole. Cold gas remains a plausible alternative fuel supply, however. The most compelling evidence that cold gas plays a role in fueling radio galaxies is that dust is detected more commonly and/or in larger quantities in (elliptical) radio galaxies compared with radio-quiet elliptical galaxies. On the other hand, only small numbers of radio galaxies have yet been detected in CO (and even fewer imaged), and whether or not all radio galaxies have enough cold gas to fuel their jets remains an open question. If so, then the dynamics of the cold gas in the nuclei of radio galaxies may provide important clues to the fuelling mechanism.
Aims. The only instrument capable of imaging the molecular component on scales relevant to the accretion process is ALMA, but very little is yet known about CO in southern radio galaxies. Our aim is to measure the CO content in a complete volume-limited sample of southern radio galaxies, in order to create a well-defined list of nearby targets to be imaged in the near future with ALMA.
Methods. APEX⋆ has recently been equipped with a receiver (APEX-1) able to observe the 230 GHz waveband. This allows us to search for CO(2−1) line emission in our target galaxies.
Results. Here we present the results for our first three southern targets, proposed for APEX-1 spectroscopy during science verification: NGC 3557, IC 4296 and NGC 1399. The experiment was successful with two targets detected, and possible indications for a double-horned CO line profile, consistent with ordered rotation. These early results are encouraging, demonstrating that APEX can efficiently detect CO in nearby radio galaxies. We therefore plan to use APEX to obtain CO spectroscopy for all our southern targets.
Key words: galaxies: active / radio lines: galaxies
© ESO, 2010