EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 399, Number 2, February IV 2003
Page(s) 511 - 517
Section Galactic structure and dynamics
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20021806


A&A 399, 511-517 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20021806

B2 0648+27: A radio galaxy in a major merger

R. Morganti1, T. A. Oosterloo1, A. Capetti2, H. R. de Ruiter3, 4, R. Fanti3, 5, P. Parma3, C. N. Tadhunter6 and K. A. Wills6

1  Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy, Postbus 2, 7990 AA, Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
2  Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino, Strada Osservatorio 25, 10025 Pino Torinese, Italy
3  Istituto di Radioastronomia, Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
4  Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, Via Ranzani, 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
5  Dipartimento di Fisica dell'Università di Bologna, Via Irnerio 46, 40126 Bologna, Italy
6  Dep. Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S7 3RH, UK

(Received 9 July 2002 / Accepted 3 December 2002 )

Abstract
We present WSRT observations of the neutral hydrogen in the nearby radio galaxy B2 0648+27. In emission, we detect a very large amount of $\ion{H}{I}$ ( $M_{\ion{H}{I}} = 1.1 \times 10^{10}\,M_\odot$) that is distributed in a very extended disk, or ring-like structure, of about 160 kpc in size. We also detect $\ion{H}{I}$ absorption against the central radio continuum component. The detection of the $\ion{H}{I}$, its structure and kinematics, give us key information for building a possible evolutionary scenario. The characteristics of the detected $\ion{H}{I}$ are explained as the result of a major merger event that is likely to have occurred ${\la} 10^9$ yr ago. Interestingly, we find that, when observed in radio continuum at higher resolution, this galaxy has a double lobed, steep spectrum structure of about 1 kpc in size. Thus, despite its low radio power, B2 0648+27 bears striking similarities with Compact Symmetric Objects, i.e. objects believed to represent the early phase of radio galaxies ( $\la$few thousand yrs old). B2 0648+27 is one of the few nearby radio galaxies where extended neutral hydrogen has been detected so far. This, and other recent results, appear however to indicate that nearby radio galaxies are more often gas rich than commonly assumed. The phenomena described are likely to be much more common at high redshift and galaxies like B2 0648+27 may provide valuable information on the evolution of high redshift radio sources.


Key words: galaxies: ISM -- galaxies: active -- radio lines: galaxies

Offprint request: R. Morganti, morganti@astron.nl

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